Then Jesus said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? (Luke 9:23-25 NRSV).
All of us like to receive a nicely wrapped gift. There is just something about the time, money and effort someone went through to think of us and give us something so beautifully wrapped up. The color of the wrapping paper, the bow and the wonder we have of what we have been given; and of course the surprise. When we open the gift, what we find is something that the gift giver thought long and hard about. What delights our heart with joy and gratitude, is that of all the people on earth, the gift giver thought about us without counting the cost.
Our Christian Faith with its many mysteries is beautiful. The gift of God’s salvation for humankind is beautiful and wonderful in and of itself. What makes it so wonderful, is that God gave us everything in God’s Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer; without counting the cost. God’s love for humankind is so great, so awesome that Jesus taking up the Cross on our behalf is in and of itself a gift beyond comprehension.
On the other hand, the greatness of our faith comes with a cost for us to ponder. The Christian life of living in faith and trust; requires of us a life lived with gratitude to God, the Gift-Giver. The contemplative lives with all of creation, with our individual challenges in mind, body and/or spirit acknowledging that God walks with us, within us and around us. For the contemplative, taking up our cross is an openness to living in relationship with God in the ordinary, the sickness, the impairment, the addiction and the hopelessness; knowing that we are never alone, nor are we without the opportunity to live our faith to the fullest in the amazing love of God. We can choose to live our faith with tunnel vision; focusing only on our own lives through which we are losing through selfishness and greed. Or, we can live into our relationships with our hearts open to the Holy who always lives in relationship with us; never counting the cost.
“Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to rise from sleep (Rom 13:11). Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our hearts to the voice from heaven that everyday calls out this charge: If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps. 94 :8). And again; You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7). (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English. The Prologue, p.158).
What cross is Jesus calling you to pick up and follow Him today?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB