The Cross in our lives

Sunday Moments by Fr Jerry Orbos SVD

September 14 2014

The story is told about a man who promised the Lord that he would follow Him and take up His cross across the seven mountains of life. But as he journeyed and struggled on, he began to complain about the weight and size of his cross, at times even sawing off some parts of it to make his travel easier. When he reached the seventh mountain, alas! He could not cross over to the other side, because his cross was too short.

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Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is through the Lord crucified on the Holy Cross that we have been saved. It is through our crosses in life that we will merit eternal life. The world sees the cross as folly. Our faith teaches us that there is meaning and merit in our crosses, trials and sufferings.

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In today’s Gospel (Jn. 3, 13-17), we read the most beautiful and most important line in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so he who believes in Him might not perish, but might have eternal life” (Jn. 3, 16). In this world where there is so much suffering, and in our own lives where we experience so many crosses and limitations, we must hold on and keep on believing that our God is a God of love, no matter what.

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How often have I heard people complain to me in anger how a God of love could be present in a world so full of suffering and injustice? Even now, as you read this column, perhaps you are saying to yourself that God is not a God of love at all. From the human point of view, this is a valid question. But from the point of view of our faith, we continue to believe even when we cannot explain or understand, even when there are no answers at hand. It is in such times that we should pray all the more: Lord, increase my faith, not my wisdom, so that I can believe and understand!

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There is a story about angels who came down to earth from heaven to find the best gifts they could bring to God the Father. One by one they returned and started offering their gifts. One brought the most beautiful rose from earth. Another brought the sweetest mangoes from Pangasinan, and yet another the juiciest lanzones from Batangas. But what pleased the Father most was the gift of a little angel, who brought a teardrop from a man who was praying in a dimly lit chapel, saying, “Lord, I do not understand why I have so many trials in my life, but I will continue to be strong and believe that You love me, and that You have a plan.”

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“Jesus, I trust in You.” This is the prayer that we must learn well and say often as we go through this valley of tears. This world will never know what we are going through. In fact, the world need not know, ever. What is important is that God knows, and we know that there is a God who loves us, and who is always with us.

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“Someday you will understand.” Mama always told us to be patient, to endure, and to hope that someday we would understand why we have to undergo trials. She was such a simple but strong believer in God’s grace and providence. It was not easy to always believe her teachings and her creed, but as I grew older I realized, and can now attest, that there is so much wisdom and learning that I have gained from this woman of simple, humble and hopeful faith.

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This world teaches us to get going, to move on, and to move up, but our faith teaches us to take the road of humility and to journey to God’s heart. All this talk of sacrifice, letting go, and letting be may be absurdity or a stumbling block to many, but we must continue to preach a Christ who was humiliated, who sacrificed, and who became obedient even unto death on a cross. We must follow our Master in the way of the cross. But that is not to say that the way is all about tears, gloom and misery. Ours is a joyful following of our Master. We are joyful witnesses of the Resurrection, not prophets of doom and gloom. To revise the prayer that we must learn well, let us pray: “Jesus, I joyfully trust in You!”

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Let me end with yet another story about a man who always complained about the cross he was carrying in life. When he got to heaven, St. Peter brought him to a room full of crosses of different sizes, colors and designs and asked him: “If you were to go back to earth, which of these crosses would you like to carry?” The man looked around, taking his time, and finally pointed to St. Peter the cross of his choice. St. Peter said: “My child, that is precisely the cross that you were carrying while you were on earth, of which you kept on complaining and complaining…”

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Please remember that the cross is not all about us. It can also be because of us. Let us live in such a way that we do not magnify our cross, that we do not increase its weight unnecessarily, and that we do not become a cross to other people.

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Think about it: “The larger our faith, the lesser our fear; the greater our trust, the stronger our belief, the weaker our worries.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me carry my cross daily and follow You joyfully. Amen.



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