Sunday’s Gospel reading comes from Mark 8 verses 31 to 38, where we hear Christ’s challenge to his disciples then and across history…
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must take up their cross and follow me”. (Mark 8 v 34).
Following the Jesus way is costly. Christ is unambiguous in his demands. Discipleship could entail a run in with both political and religious authority (Mark 8 v 30 to 32) let alone the hard graft of carrying one of history’s most brutal instruments of torture. Elsewhere in the Gospels, Christ teaches that his followers ought be prepared to break family relationships. Following Christ presents a difficult path to tread.
It’s no wonder that Peter, despite his awakening as to who Christ is (Mark 8 v 29) “You are the Christ, the Messiah”, is rebuked swiftly when he seeks to prevent Christ from following his destiny…a journey of tears, tribulation and testing.
All before the hope and glory of the resurrection.
I don’t know about you, but I deeply struggle with Christ’s teaching regarding his command to “take up your cross”.
When times of trouble or difficulty arise I usually look for quick fixes. The thought of lugging a heavy cross around with me is not an experience I readily seek out.
Its sheer weight crushes me.
Its awkwardness makes me stumble, fall and quite honestly curse out loud.
Sometimes my particular “cross” evokes sympathy from some and ridicule and shame from others.
Occasionally the cross I carry should not be carried in the first place. That burden rests elsewhere and quite possibly I need to let go.
Once in a while, others journey with me in carrying the cross and (I trust) in some small way I support their experience with their cross or indeed crosses.
Sadly, Christ does not promise any of us a conveyer belt experience when suffering, especially when we “suffer” in the service and building of his Kingdom.
What’s our best response to Christ’s teaching?
Just as my, then, 6 year old daughter understood from the very core of her being, maybe our best and only response to Christ’s command to follow him, despite the cost, is to cry out…”Help!”
And receive grace, mercy and understanding for our journey.
After all, if Jesus has got things correct, finding one’s soul, the “real you” (Mark 8 v 37 The Message) is a search worth throwing our all at.