We are filled with joy at the Easter feast, celebrating the Risen Lord! We gather, we eat, we drink, we sing Alleluia! It’s a feast so big it takes eight days to contain it. The joy of the Lord’s defeat of death fills our souls and we shout and sing and praise His Name. We are saved - and so we need to take up our cross!
Wait. We need to what now?
Yes, we are saved and so we need to take up our cross (Luke 9:23). The Lord didn’t come to remove our troubles. He came to defeat death and open the gates of heaven so that we might (note: might) have eternal life. We are saved, true, but we are still alive in this world. The only ones who were set free from their world upon his sacrifice were those in Limbo. They received His grace and were able to be filled with joy and redemption. They were already done living. (We assume those who completely rejected the Lord were sent elsewhere but all will be made plain upon our own end.)
Yet we who are living in this world, trudging along in this twisted, backwards, evil-filled earth are required to continue on. We are not relieved of our troubles. We are promised new life, yes, and the hope of that fills us with joy and new drive to 'go and sin no more' (John 8:11). Still, we must bear our cross in this life and join in Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10). We must pray for the strength and will to bear the sufferings the Father asks us to bear. In joining with His suffering, we may join in His resurrection (Romans 6:5).
We are not suddenly saved and then free from suffering so long as we live in this sinful world. We are made to bear suffering so as to bear the Blood of Christ and join with Him in eternal salvation and glory. In order to be present with Him in heaven, we must come through this life as holy as we can. Truly, we cannot live as holy a life as He, but we must continue to try. We are not ‘saved’ and suddenly no longer in need of a Savior, but we are saved by knowing the truth, His great Love, and therefore able to bear the cross He asks of us.
The truth is, we need a Savior every day! We need to reset our hearts frequently so we can continue to live in this world and not be of it. We need Jesus in the sacraments, all of them, especially Confession and Holy Communion. One doesn’t get fit and go back to eating junk. To be physically fit, we must continue to make healthy choices for our bodies in diet and exercise. The same is true with our souls. We need to continue to diet (refrain from sin and the near occasions of sin) and exercise (pray, fast, works of mercy, etc.) throughout our lives.
Let us take up our crosses daily and rejoice! The kingdom of heaven is at hand! Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ will come again! Let us bear our cross and be renewed in life by joining our suffering to His and so join ourselves to His resurrection.