Reflections on the scripture readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Scripture can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/083114.cfm
A nun was explaining the Stations of the Cross to her class. When they got to the fourth station where Jesus, on the road to Calvary, meets his mother, the nun explained that, even though they could not talk to each other, mother and son simply used their eyes. "What do you think they said to each other?" she asked the pupils. The students gave many different answers. One child suggested that she said, "This is unfair." Another child suggested that she said, "Why me?" Finally, a sickly little girl raised her hand, got up and said, "Sister, I know what the Blessed Mother told Jesus. She said to him, "Keep on going, Jesus!" Why would a mother encourage her only son on the way to crucifixion to keep on going? Because a mother understands the Christian principle of "no cross, no crown."
The gospel of Christ is a coin with two sides: the cross and the crown. If we try to embrace the glorious side and reject the suffering side, we falsify the gospel. The same Jesus who said "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28) also said, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)
Following God and choosing to do His will is never easy. Jeremiah in our first reading found this out the hard way. He had to endure real hardship. In the verses just before the selection we read for today, a priest of Jerusalem temple had Jeremiah confined to the stocks. Those hearing the words of Jeremiah did not like much of his warnings that the kingdom will collapse. They regarded Jeremiah's words as treasonous and demoralizing. They could not see that Jeremiah was speaking for the true King of Israel; therefore his words were anything but treasonous. Though Jeremiah sounds frustrated in this reading, he comes to realize that he had to speak the word of God, even if it led to personal discomfort.
In the gospel for today, our Lord is teaching us the importance of carrying our crosses, in imitation of Him. We can't escape the crosses that God places in our lives. What we need to do is to move beyond anger with ourselves or depression, so that we can arrive at where the cross is meant to lead us all the time - grace.
Place your trust in God and ask him to carry the cross with you. The crucified, glorified Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist. It is here especially that we can receive the grace, the strength, to carry our cross. It is here that we grow in faith, hope, and love. The cross will lead us to new life in Christ.
Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
Deacon Tom Tortorella is a guest blogger on FatherRosado.com. He is a permanent Deacon for the Archdiocese of New York and is currently assigned to St. Clare of Assisi Church in the Bronx, NY. He was ordained by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan on June 19th, 2010.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.