Sunday, April 13, 2014

“Remember a week before he was crucified like a criminal, he rode into the city a king."

Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it can they derive peace, grace, and truth. - St. Anthony of Padua

Scripture Text: (MT 21:1-11)
When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Many years ago I was standing in a food line at a baseball game.  Near me was a young man in his early teens who had spina bifida.  He could only stand supported by braces that he held with both hands.  A woman seeking to express great kindness said to him, “My what a brave young man you are.”  To this he replied, “Lady, everybody has a cross to bear.  You can just see mine.”

At a certain point when the line began to thin out I reminded my young friend of his response.  A big smile came over his face as he said to me:  “It’s true you know. Everybody has a cross.”

Christ holds up for us “the cross” with this understanding: If we embrace it with love, as he did, the cross can be redemptive.  Into every life comes a cross.  There’s no way to avoid the cross that each of us must carry.  Some are simply “more visible” than others.  Yet no one escapes the ups and downs of the human condition.  Sometimes the cross comes in the form of aging, physical suffering, disease, disability.  Other times it presents itself as a betrayal of a friendship, an abuse of a relationship.  Our cross might simply be the struggle to live out the wondrous yet demanding promises to love, honor and support one another “all the days of our lives.”  Whatever the cross, Jesus tells us we must take it up.  We must carry it.  We must pick up our cross and walk with him.

Jesus embraced the cross, and in His great love he transformed it into an instrument of God’s grace and instrument of God’s power, an instrument of the Spirit.  So too can we.  We are able to unite our personal cross to the cross of Christ and, in our love, transform it and make it into something just as Jesus did.  Make it into something redemptive, transforming, life-giving.

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