Carrying the cross

Among the many teachings of Jesus, we come across this rather stark-sounding invitation: “If anyone would be a follower of mine, let him deny himself and take up his daily cross and follow me” (Lk 9:23-24).

Many may sense what this means… but I fear that many of us either don’t understand or misunderstand what Jesus is asking of us, and so we turn a deaf ear to his proposal.

Specifically, what does Jesus mean by this “disgusting” invitation? Carrying our cross daily and surrendering our lives in order to find a fuller life can mean accepting six well-combined certainties

– First, accepting that suffering is a part of our life. And from there, making peace with the inevitable fact that frustration, illness, misfortune, bad luck… are part of our biography. If we think they are avoidable, we will find ourselves habitually bitter and grumpy.

– Moreover, it means that, even if we suffer, we can stop spreading our bitterness to those around us. Because we are inclined to make others suffer when we are suffering ourselves. And this is not the same as sharing our sorrows, which is very necessary at times. What is unhealthy and cruel is to want others to suffer for the sake of it.

– On the other hand, we must accept other deaths before our physical death… And, thus, we must let very dear realities die, such as youth, health, loved ones, etc. Mourn them and move on. Every day we are presented with occasions of loss….. We have to say “goodbye” to them.

– Of course we also have to wait for the resurrection. The Christian life is often about waiting; waiting in frustration, waiting in injustice, waiting in bitterness… waiting for Someone to come and change our situation. Ninety-eight percent of our lives are summed up in waiting with confidence for the fulfilment of a deeper longing.

– Carrying our cross also means understanding that God’s gift to us is often not what we expect. God always answers our prayers, but he gives us what we really need, not what we think we need. God surprises us… Many are not able to let go of his short reach.

– Finally, it means living in a faith that believes that nothing is impossible for God. He is greater than human imagination. When we succumb to the idea that God cannot offer us a way out of our pain it is precisely because we have reduced God to the dwarf size of our imagination.

We can carry our cross when we begin to truly believe in the resurrection.


Juan Carlos cmf

(PHOTO: Tacho Dimas)


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