31 March 2015

During Holy Week, Bearing Our Share of the Cross

When Jesus made His way to Calvary, bowed under His heavy cross, He fell down beneath its wight-- He, Virtus Dei, "the Strength of God"; we see Him humiliated, weak, prostrate on the ground, He is incapable of carrying His cross. This was a homage his humanity rendered to the power of God. Had he so willed, Jesus, in spite of His weakness, could have carried His cross all the way to Calvary; but at that moment His divinity wills, for our salvation, that His humanity shall feel weakness, in order that it merit for us the strength to bear our sufferings.

To us also God gives a cross to carry, and everyone thinks his own cross to be the heaviest. we ought to accept our cross without argument, without saying "God could have changed this or that circumstance of my life." Our Lord told us: "If anyone wishes to come after me"-- wants to be my disciple-- "let him... take up his cross, and follow me."

In that generous acceptance of our cross,  we shall find union with Christ. For note well, that in carrying our own cross, we truly take our share of that of Jesus. Consider what is recounted in the Gospel. The Jews, seeing their victim becoming weak, and fearing He would not have the strength to reach Calvary, stopped Simon of Cyrene upon the way, and forced him to help the Savior. As I have just said to you, Christ, had He so willed, could have drawn on His divinity for the necessary strength, but He consented to be helped. He thereby wished to show us that each of us ought to aid Him to carry His cross. Our Lord says to us: "Accept that part of my sufferings which, in my divine prescience, on the day of my Passion, I reserved for you."

How could we refuse to accept, from the hands of Christ, this sorrow, this opposition to our wishes, that adversity? to drink a few drops from the cup which He Himself presents to us, and from which He has drunk first? Let us therefore say to Him: "Yes, Divine Master, I accept this share, with all my heart, because it comes from you." Let us therefore take hold of it, as Christ took hold His cross, for love of Him and in union with Him. We shall sometimes feel our shoulders sag beneath the burden; St. Paul confesses that certain hours of his existence were so full of worry and annoyances that he was "weary even of life." But, like the great apostle, let us look at Him who so loved us that He delivered Himself up for us. At those hours when the body is tortured, or the soul crushed, or the mind lives in darkness, or the deep action of the Holy Spirit in His purifying operations makes itself felt, let us unite ourselves to Christ with more love still. Then the power and the unction of His cross will be communicated to us, and we shall find there, along with strength, that peace and that inner joy which knows how to smile in the midst of suffering: "I overflow with joy in all our troubles," declares St. Paul.

Those are graces Our Lord has merited for us. Indeed when He mounted to Calvary aided by the Cyrenean, Christ Jesus, God-man, thought of all those who in the course of the centuries would help Him carry His cross by accepting their own. He at that time merited for them inexhaustible graces of strength, resignation and self-surrender that would make them say, as He did: "Father, let your will be done, not mine!"

-- from Christ in His Mysteries, Blessed Columba Marmion

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