Last week there was a great meditation in the Magnificat about your cross to bear. It was about a woman who’s husband was super cheap. She lived quietly with this, while her friends bought her items she needed — a new dress, new shoes. To her and her friends, this was her personal cross to bear.
Father Emmerich Vogt, who wrote the passage, says just the opposite.
“What she was really doing was running away from the cross and indulging her weak and fallen nature. Her true cross would be to sit down with him and make it known in a reasonable, responsible, and loving way, that since it was his house, his food, and his money, he could clean it, cook it and bank it because she had needs of her own and would be finding a way to support herself. . . That’s a denial of self that leads to life. The cross, properly understood, brings life out of death; in this case, death to her fear . . . .The cross gives life.”
When I read this, it hit me for the first time that our crosses cannot and do not come from the outside. Think Mark 7:15.
Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.
What is within. . . these are our crosses. The stumbling blocks within our hearts that prevent us from holiness.
When I last spoke with Father Barkett I explained how I lost my job. You see, somewhere, somehow, I confused humilty with how I was supposed to act. And what a train wreck that was. I lost all confidence in myself almost immediately. I never spoke up. I mixed up being confident and strong with pride, and pride was something I was desperately trying to avoid. So I shut down. I was paralyzed. I fell deep into myself where most of my thoughts focused on me. I thought perhaps this job, and my awkwardness in it, was what I need to learn humility. That this was my lesson from God. One of my crosses?
Father Barkett smiled sweetly and told me that humility doesn’t mean being a doormat. It means confidence and courage. The old lady and her cheap husband.
Our crosses are not the obstacles or events life throws in our way, poverty, pain, change, tragedy, loss. In this world there will always be trouble. Rather, it is our response. Our crosses are within our hearts, they are our willingness to indulge in our weaknesses. The job was a lesson from God alright. It was a lesson in how not to respond to God’s call. Funny. Sometimes you need a big stick.
Good news? Christ.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25
Lord, give me the courage to take on my crosses. And let me let them die so that I may have life in light. And share that light with others.