Summary: The Cross allows us to "deny oneself" from pure self interest to serve a higher purpose. It's a way for us to continually do a self check, and for us to be sanctified.
There is a story by Guy de Maupassant titled "The Necklace." The Necklace is a tale of a young woman named Mathilde who wishes she was rich and also wishes she was accepted in higher social circles. However, her husband is an ordinary French citizen without the resources to fulfill her dreams.
Finally this woman gets the chance to advance her dreams when her husband gets the two of them invited to an elegant ball. She spends a huge sum of money and buys a beautiful dress. She also borrows a beautiful diamond necklace from a friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. The stunning necklace draws many compliments from the aristocratic guests at the ball. However, somehow, the worst possible thing happens. Mathilde loses the beautiful necklace.
What is she to do? It was so expensive. Panic stricken, she and her husband borrow thirty-six thousand francs to buy a new necklace so her friend will not find out what she has done. In order to pay back this vast amount of money, they are forced to go to such extremes as selling their home, dismissing their servants, working two jobs, even moving into a slum. After ten years of intense sacrifice, the debt is finally paid off.
One day, after the debt is paid, Mathilde happens to run into Madame Forestier, the friend from whom she borrowed the necklace. Forestier is shocked by how quickly Mathilde has aged. And Mathilde confesses what had happened--that she had lost he necklace--and what they had been through because of it. Quite shaken, her friend reveals to Mathilde that the diamonds which she had replaced at such great cost had been fake and that the necklace she had lost cost less than 500 francs, a fraction of the cost of the replacement necklace. All those sacrifices had been a tragic mistake.
The author's point is that this is meant to be a parable of contemporary life! People slaving for values that turn out only to be illusionary or end in heartaches. People worshipping idols that can never bring them real happiness.
1. We hear in our Gospel today, "Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me".
The Cross allows us to "deny oneself" from pure self interest to serve a higher purpose.
It's a way for us to continually do a self check, and for us to be sanctified.
Human beings, at times, have a deep-rooted tendency to “think only of self”, to regard one’s own person as the center of interest and to see oneself as the standard against which to gauge everything. That type of self-love wants us to seek the meaning of our lives in power, wealth and honor, and look down on what is inferior. (cf. Gaudium et spes, 24).
First, you don’t need to look for your crosses. Life gives them to you.
One story goes that an 18th century preacher was asked if he would visit his estranged wife while he was in London. He replied, “Sir, I will gladly bear a cross, but I will not seek one out.”
--We are not allowed to come to God on our own terms we must come to Him on His terms. It’s a call to absolute surrender.
Its boldly thrown out there, leaving it to the hearer to wrestle with it--"Take up your cross and follow me."
We take up our crosses when we willingly accept and fulfill our responsibilities in life, especially those unfavorable ones.By allowing your circumstances to help you become more like Christ–especially the circumstances you don’t like.
C. G. Jung is supposed to have said that a naked man nailed to a cross is perhaps the deepest archetypal symbol in the Western psyche.
Yet, the Power of the Cross is an oxymoron, the juxtaposition of two words that simple do not go together.
Yet, abject weakness, defeat, and shame become the source of power for those who believe in the death and rising of Christ (1 Cor. 1:17).
If all our crucfixions are leading to resurrection this changes everything.
2). Taking up your cross is an intentional act.
E.g. The Legion of Mary is very clear about its purpose for doing hospital and nursing home visitation: "To educate the patients to a true conception of their sufferings, that they may bear them in the proper spirit...."O happy patient, God has shown me how great a glory you have merited by your illness. You have merited more than others can gain by prayer, fasting, vigils, scourging and other penitential works."
It means we must take our wants and desires down from the throne and place Jesus and His will as the governing power in our lives.
Because Jesus died and rose for us, his Cross stands as the gateway to all of God's blessings. We are all familiar with the impulses of anger, selfishness, lust, jealousy, and resentment. How we long to be free to them, and we can when we keep the Cross in the forefront of our minds.