Apr9ThuApril 9, 2020
Taking up our cross is not the same as simply resigning our self to things we cannot change. There is no transformation in such passive resignation. The route to Christian spiritual transformation is more active. It involves accepting those sources of suffering that we did not originally choose but that, being already ours, we are invited to accept. It means embracing the things that we instinctively want to eliminate. It demands a response that is totally counter-instinctual, 180 degrees opposite to what we naturally want to do.
What we want to do is either fight against the suffering, or ignore it. What Jesus asks is something quite different. Taking up our cross is not, in the final analysis, choosing between whether to suffer or not. That choice is not ours. But we can choose to acknowledge the suffering rather than ignore it. And while holding it, we can choose to look toward God. If we do, we discover God looking toward us.
Taking up our cross is allowing suffering to be a place of meeting God. For no matter how great your suffering may be, God has suffered from it first. Only when we embrace the suffering that can never be avoided do we meet the God who, as Paul says, “is everything and…is in everything” (Colossians 3:11).
Joseph Campbell states that the cross is not only one historic moment on Calvary, but the mystery through all time and space of God’s presence and participation in the agony of all living things. It is just as the Apostle Paul claimed. It is in the midst of our suffering and weakness that Christ is most present. It is here that our vulnerability and weakness meet Christ’s transformational power.