Our Cross, Our Calvary
Each of us has a cross to carry. Some are quite visible. Others are not. How we carry them may lead others to Christ or steer them away. Jesus said, “Take up [your] cross, and follow me”(Matt 16:24).
Today my thoughts are on a young friend who is having a wisdom tooth removed. I pray it is not impacted and that her oral surgery goes well. I am glad her parents will be there for her. They are like Simon, who helped Jesus carry his cross, and like Mary, who stood by her Son as he gave the ultimate sacrifice.
By being there, her parents are helping her get through a difficult part of her life’s journey. One might consider it to be a splinter from the cross Christ has given her in this life. Like graduating from high school, it could be looked upon as a sign of childhood ending and a new chapter of life beginning.
Life is filled with challenges and expectations. Today I am asking my guardian angel to watch over and protect her. I am also pledging the time I spend in my wheelchair this week to her. I plan to unite my suffering with hers. In doing so, I pray God blesses our suffering, making it pleasing to him.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said, “Unless there is the cross there will never be the empty tomb.” For us this means nobody can get through life without pain. How we deal with the trials, joys, and sorrows of our lives can lead others to Christ or steer them away.
What an awesome responsibility! Our lives, our example may be the only Gospel someone ever sees. The way we accept or reject the splinters from our crosses in this life might be what gives an individual the inkling to step up and ask the source of our peace and joy.
This call to witness is not always easy. One might be asked care for aging parents or grandparents, a child, or another family member with a chronic illness—responsibilities that often come with extraordinary expenses. However, they also come with great joy. A part of one’s cross might be to simply listen—allowing someone to share his or her life stories over and over again. Extended-family members often teach us by sharing stories of personal triumphs and struggles as well as defeats. Within the retelling, new chapters or layers of healing may unfold. By listening with compassion and giving the gift of time we receive a gift in exchange—insight into their past and the impact they’ve had on others—tools that allow us to learn more about our heritage and gain a deeper understanding of who we are. To bring this point home, here’s a story from my childhood.