Heavy Lifting for Spiritual Fitness
Readings: Deut 30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25
"He must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. " Lk 9:23
Today, when we hear people refer to "the cross" they bear, they often use the term to mean the burden they carry. By "cross," they may be referring to an inconvenience, a disappointment they must endure, or responsibilities that involve sacrifice but little personal reward. But, when Jesus called upon us to take up a cross daily, He had something entirely different in mind. He used the term cross in the context of the times. The cross, then, was the instrument through which capital punishment was exacted, the cruel means by which lives were extinguished.
When we think of the cross today, maybe it's better that we call to mind the electric chair, say, or lethal injection. Only then can we truly consider what Jesus was implying.
By asking us to deny ourselves and to bear the cross, Jesus is saying that every day we should die to ourselves in order that we may live in Him.
In other words, no one who lives for himself or herself can be a true disciple because the way of the cross is selfless, as Jesus showed in His own life.
Indeed, Jesus became man in order to guide us back to God. He then suffered for our sake and died on the cross. Then, He rose on the third day proving that the cross leads to freedom and victory over sin and death.
We may ask ourselves, since Jesus already bore the cross, why must we? By hoisting it daily, we become spiritually fit. Instead of burning calories, we vanquish our old, sinful selves when we bear the cross. In doing so, we become born as new creations in Christ.
Dear Lord, come into my heart and clear out the distractions that block my path to Your loving grace. Shape me into Your image. Give me the strength to carry the cross in Your holy name. Amen.
Diary of St. Faustina