Today’s Gospel reminds us that carrying our cross is what’s required to be Jesus’ disciple. It gives us pause to ask: What cross is God asking us to carry for the sake of being Jesus’ disciple? Do you have a heavy cross to carry?
God has given me many crosses, some of which are very significant. Some of them have become lighter over time and some now cease to be crosses, but some of them continue to remain. One of those crosses is infertility. On two different occasions, a priest and a Catholic doctor told me this was a heavy cross.
I don’t know if this cross will be temporary or permanent, but for the time being it feels like one of those crosses Jesus is speaking of today. It strikes me as a cross required to be carried for the sake of being Jesus’ disciple either for a time or permanently.
This cross has paved the way to be a closer follower of Christ. It has opened doors to other forms of service and finding purpose. It has prompted me to look for other spiritual ways to be maternal. It has given me more time to develop a closer relationship with God. It has led to greater resources for charity. I know that the cross has indeed led to deeper discipleship, which I think is Jesus' whole point today in the Gospel.
But that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t weigh heavy on my shoulders some days. The emotional toll, the high costs of various assessments and treatments, the spiritual barrenness felt from unanswered prayers, and the physical burden it takes on you – it’s all a very real cross and real crosses are always hard to accept and carry. Jesus' own example shows us that. He had emotional agony in the Garden. He struggled to physically carry the cross and fell three times. He needed others' strength and support to carry it. He felt spiritually abandoned by God. If you're experiencing these things, chances are, that's your cross.
Let today remind you that carrying that cross is part of being a disciple. It’s not something we can escape or run away from as a disciple, but something we must take up, accept, endure, ask for strength to carry, and look deep within to find how God is using that cross to form us more deeply into a disciple of Jesus.