Reflection from Encounter (Mar 14) | Robyn Aguila
Updated: Mar 17
We all face our own crosses, and our crosses may take different shapes, sizes, and weight. The Lenten season can often highlight what our personal crosses are, and I’m sure the pandemic might have brought new crosses, brought ones to light, or made pre-existing ones even heavier. I invite you to close your eyes and imagine your cross: - How heavy is it? - How big is it? - Is it new and unfamiliar? Or have you been carrying it for a while? - Are you helping someone carry their cross or is it your own? - Are you wondering why you have to be the one to carry it? - Are you wondering why it is difficult to trust in God’s goodness? - Are you wondering why it is difficult to understand God’s plan in the moment? Open your eyes, but keep your cross in mind. We know that Jesus says “if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23) and we’re often told to simply embrace our crosses and carry them. While this is true (seeing as Christianity is marked by the sign of the cross and he never promised that it would be easy), it can often sound trite because we forget the whole story, we forget the rest of the Gospel message. Next time you confront your cross, I want you to remember two things: you are not alone and have hope because the story doesn’t end here. You are not alone. Fr Jean C. d’Elbée in I Believe in Love says “Never look at the Cross without Jesus. If I must bear the Cross alone, I renounce it in advance. I do not want to touch the onerous burden with the end of my finger: I am too weak, too cowardly, too sensitive […] but it is with you, Jesus, that I want to suffer.” He goes on to say “Suffering helps us to detach ourselves from earth, to look higher, to remember that earth is a place of passage. That is why we so often find that the poor and the suffering are much nearer to our Lord than others. Sorrow lifts us up; sorrow makes us grow; sorrow liberates.” Where there is a cross, there is Jesus. While Jesus does not promise that this life will be easy, he says “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). And he promises that he will never leave you or forsake you. Let Jesus in. Open the door of your heart to Him, let Him be at the center of your life, and let Him carry it with you. Jesus will only come in if you let him and He will only take what you give him permission to take – this is why surrender is so important. And he might not completely take away your cross , but he will make it lighter or give you the strength to carry it. Will you let Jesus in? Let others in. We know Jesus didn’t carry his cross on his own, he had the help of Simon of Cyrene. There are Simons in your life – your family, your friends, our parish community – who want to help you unload your burdens because they love you. Will you humble your heart to realize you were never meant to carry it all on your own? Have hope because the story doesn’t end here. We heard that we cannot look at a cross without Jesus, but we also cannot look at the cross without having hope in the resurrection. After all, the Christian faith hinges upon the resurrection. St Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor 15:4). The cross and the resurrection are inseparable in God’s plan for our salvation. Perhaps this is why all of the apostles (except for John) abandoned Jesus. They feared the cross and forgot about the hope of the resurrection. They forgot that Jesus says “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also” and that he will “destroy this temple and in three days [he] will raise it up.” They forgot that God is faithful to His promises. In these moments when you are afraid or discouraged, call upon Mary, our Mother of Hope. Maybe John was the only one who didn’t abandon Jesus was because he remained close to Mary. Mary, Mother of Hope, reminds us the promise of a savior and the hope of the resurrection, which she pondered in her heart throughout her life. The promise of a saviour allowed her to say “let it be done to me according to your word”. It fueled her hope in all of the stressful and sorrowful events between the Annunciation and the birth of Christ to his death and resurrection and turned it all into joy and glory. Hope is the fighting virtue and hope kept her at the feet of the cross. And I imagine that Mary she didn’t need to see Jesus in the in the flesh after the resurrection to believe. During Eucharistic Adoration, I invite you to picture your crosses again. But look closer and I assure you will see Jesus and Mary with you. Remember: we cannot go through Lent forgetting about Easter Sunday, and we cannot carry our crosses without Jesus and Mary. We can hope in the Lord.
And I will leave you with this “Poem of Hope” of Marietta Martin. One day there will be no more unexpressed words of love, There will be no more stifled desires, There will be no more silent presences: all the voices will be heard, The veil which the music lifts will never more be lowered, There will be no more inaccessible space, and the spool of time will unwind in the present, All the sister particles of souls will join together. The sunset will be explained, Beauty will lose its anguish, Creation will be the clear word of divinity, One day, like a beautiful voyage toward the beloved dead.