Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Easter is here and will not go away. We should relish in the realism that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is risen, and death from sin has been destroyed. Lent, the journey from Ash Wednesday through Wednesday of Holy Week, the Paschal Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil remain with us throughout the year. This is our Faith, this is our gift that God ordained from the beginning of the world. This is the Paschal Mystery!
Is the Resurrection an entity that we believe in, as the reality that our arms can encompass and never let go? It is if we as His children are able to carry our own cross. How often Jesus alluded to this when He said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself.” (Lk. 9:23-25). (Mt. 16: 24-26). (Mk. 8: 34-35).
Can any one of us say “I am carrying my cross” without feeling the intense grief that comes from this task? Are we able to identify the cross that bears down on our own shoulders, and can we walk without cursing the trek that appears to be ours alone? Is it easy? Probably not. Can we trade it for a lesser one? If that were possible another would take its place and we might wish to have the first one back.
There is an old Indian proverb that says; “If all the people in the entire world could sit at a large table where everyone is visible and each one took their problems (crosses) and laid them on the table where all could view them, everyone would quickly grab their own and run with them”. “No one would trade theirs for those of someone else.” We think ours is the worst until the weight of another’s becomes visible to our eyes. Another adage is; “I used to complain because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet”.
This brings us to the fact that our cross may never be reached without suffering. Jesus’ task was to redeem us but it took the Cross and Crucifixion to accomplish this. Look at the suffering He endured before the walk on the Via Dolorosa. How often he was rejected by those who should have known better. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, Physician, cure yourself and say, Do here in your native place the things we heard were done in Capernaum.” And he said. “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Lk. 4: 22 b, 23-24).
“Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. (My. 13: 55 -58).
As he drew near, he saw the city (Jerusalem) and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Lk. 19: 41 - 44).
The preceding verses showed that Jesus’ suffering was more than physical pain. The more lasting hurt came from being rejected and sneered at when too many of the leaders had their own heads in the clouds and felt they had the final answers regarding the Messiah. Who was this man that came out of the hills with ruffians or non-educated followers telling the Pharisees about God?
Yes, we just completed many days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and await the descent of the Holy Spirit who will teach and lead us into the future of following Christ and His Glorious Ascension to His Father’s side.
However, it will be our task to keep our eyes on our own Resurrection, the cross we may be carrying, and the suffering that will certainly be a part of our journey as we follow the Risen Christ and His example. No suffering, no cross; no Resurrection.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Post-Easter 2019