Many of my students were surprised at this assertion. For them following Jesus meant committing themselves to living his message, especially his message on love of neighbor. They had not identified going to Jesus for strength in suffering as an integral part of their Christian living.
I then remind my students that the central symbol of Christianity is the cross — for Catholics this symbol includes the actual body of the crucified Jesus hanging on the cross.
Today’s Gospel reminds us the centrality of this symbol even to Jesus. Jesus is responding to the Pharisees, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.” Jesus reminds his opponents that they will one day recognize him — when he is lifted up on the cross! He asserts his faith in his Father, witnessing that he is never alone and that even in his extreme suffering his Father is with him; “The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
We are approaching Holy Week. What better time to go to Jesus with our sufferings and our crosses? Just as the Father sustained, raised up and transformed Jesus in his suffering, so will Jesus sustain, raise up and transform us in our sufferings. Jesus is our saviour. Jesus beckons us, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give rest to your souls.”
Yes, we have not fully matured as Christians -- we have not fully participated in the Paschal Mystery of dying and rising with Jesus -- until we take up our crosses and invite Jesus to be with us. Then we know from personal experience that Jesus is truly our savior!
Then we know from personal experience the meaning of our Easter Alleluias!
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook