As follower of Jesus was going through a very tough time. Despite appealing to the Lord in prayer there seemed to be no relief from his suffering. Then one night he had a dream. In the dream the Lord came to meet this struggling Christian and together they went to a large warehouse which were full of crosses. The disciple was amazed to see so many different types of cross in one place. There were tall ones, small heavy ones, smooth ones and rough ones of all sizes. The Lord then lovingly invited His disciple to choose the cross he would most like to carry.
For the next few hours he tried out many crosses, some were too heavy, others too large to hold, still others were too rough and gave splinters. After much searching the disciple presented the cross of his choice. “My child,” said the Lord gently, “this is the very same cross that I in my loving wisdom had chosen for you, the one you have been carrying.”
The Way of the Cross
Jesus said to all who would listen ‘whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23). This is not popular and never has been, however the reality of the cross is central to our faith. The only way for Christians is the way of Jesus, and that is the way of the cross. For not only is Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life but also since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have been known as ‘followers of the Way’.
Perhaps there are times when, like the disciple in the story, everything seems too much and we feel we cannot go on. Our Lord Himself knows all about this. During the Stations of the Cross we meditate on His falling three times on His way to Calvary. Jesus fell under the weight of the cross, under the weight of our sins, so He knows best of all how heavy the cross is. However, each time He got up and continued His journey. Jesus also knew what it was to accept the help of others; Simon of Cyrene physically carried the cross and the presence of His Mother Mary consoled Him on His journey. Sometimes we too need to allow ourselves to be helped by others.
Becoming Mature Christians
The weight of the cross shows the weight of God’s love because Jesus bore everything due to His love for us. The cross has not only set us free, purchasing forgiveness and healing, but also offers us the possibility of a totally new life. God loves us too much to leave us as we are, so He is continually at work in our lives, through the cross, to transform us into saints. If we accept the work of the cross in our lives we can be progressively liberated from self-centred and destructive ways of living.
The Bible, in Hebrews chapter 12, reminds us that God our loving Father makes use of suffering as part of our training. He does this to make us mature, so that we might share in His own holiness. It promises that our suffering will ultimately bear fruit in peace and goodness if we remain with the Lord (Hebrews 12:1-13).
The most wonderful news is that the weight of the cross gives way to something much greater- the weight of the resurrection! Our troubles and sufferings, which will soon be over, are preparing us to carry a much greater weight, the weight of eternal glory! St Paul tells us that “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Imagine a weight lifter building up his strength in training. He uses lesser weights to build up his strength. Over time he is able to bear a much greater weight. So it is with us, God makes use of trials to mature us and prepare us to receive the full weight of eternal glory, not just in heaven but even in this life we can taste the peace and joy of the risen Jesus. Jesus has conquered sin and death, through His cross and resurrection everything is transformed, even our sufferings, for now we see them in an eternal perspective.
Lord Jesus, help me to take up my cross every day and follow you. When I fall under the weight of the cross please give me the strength to get up again. Help me also to accept the help of others on my journey of faith. I praise you Lord that you are using my trials to mold me and prepare me for eternal glory with you. Amen.
-by Alex Heath, the Adviser for Adult Faith Formation, Catechetic and Chaplaincy in the Northampton Diocese in the UK