Summary: "They just decided, 'We're going to leave the cross and take Jesus.'"
In August of 2003 - the Church of the Holy Cross in Midtown Manhattan, New York City was broken into twice. In the first break-in, thieves stole a moneybox that was situated near a votive candle rack. Three weeks later, the church was burglarized a second time. But this time, the thieves escaped with something much more valuable. They stole a 4-foot tall, 200-pound plaster statue of Jesus from the crucifix, but they left His cross behind. When interviewed by the media, the church caretaker,David St. James, expressed his bewilderment at this. "They just decided, 'We're going to leave the cross and take Jesus.' We don't know why they took just him. We figure if you want the crucifix, you take the whole crucifix." In other words, David St. James was saying, "If you want Jesus, you take his cross, too."
We hear in our Gospel text this Sunday, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
1). Our Cross Directs us—
whether mental, emotional, or physical in carrying our cross we follow Jesus and are able to overcome this fallen world we live in. Peter didn’t yet understand the purpose of suffering. Get behind me, Satan means standing in opposition to the will of God is to be on the side of Satan, even to be doing his work. Because of our cross we arrive at where it was meant to lead us in the plan of God for us because of our cross. It helps us in the acceptance of responsibility, dedication to the truth, and delay of gratification.
e.g. in our First Reading, Jeremiah has some strong feelings about his vocation. Jeremiah did not realize what he was getting into when he accepted the prophetic role. Now he is caught between the people who persecute him for his message and the Lord who will not allow him to withhold the message.
Carry your Cross means embrace it or make it your own or endure it.
e.g. A nun was explaining the Stations of the Cross to her class. They got to the fourth Station were Jesus on the road to Calvary meets his mother. The nun explained that even though they could not talk to each other, mother and son spoke just using their eyes. "What do you think they said to each other?" she asked the pupils. The class gave many different answers. One kid suggested that she said, "This is unfair." Another kid suggested that she said, "Why me?" Finally a sickly little girl raised her thin hand, got up and said: "Sister, I know what the Blessed Mother told Jesus. She said to him, 'Keep on going, Jesus!'"
2. Our Cross inspects us- People are like tea bags... if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you? "When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience." -James 1:2-3
3. Our Cross Protects us—
A beautiful Jewish story illustrates this well.
•Rabbi Akiba was once traveling through the country.
•He had with him a donkey, a rooster, and a lamp.
•At nightfall he reached a village where he sought shelter for the night.
•But no one took him in.
•"All that God does is done well," said the Rabbi, and proceeding toward the forest, he resolved to pass the night there.
•He lit his lamp, but the wind blew it out.
•"All that God does is done well," he said.
•The donkey and the rooster were devoured by wild beasts; yet still he said no more than, "All that God does is done well."
•The next day he learned that a troop of the enemy's soldiers had passed through the forest that night.
•If the donkey had brayed, if the rooster had crowed, or if the soldiers had seen his light, he would surely have met his death.
•The Rabbi said again, "All that God does is done well."
If we love God, keeping him first, like the farmer and the merchant, then he can turn even our tragedies, whether big or small, into triumphs, because we will give his omnipotence room to work.
In 2015, Pope Francis, during a Mass for thousands of survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda. He noted that it was 14 months ago since the typhoon struck the region, flattening communities and killing at least 6,000. It was the worst disaster to hit the Philippines.
“I come to tell you that Jesus is lord and he never lets us down,” the Pope said.
But he hastened to add, “Father, you might say to me, I was let down because I’ve lost so many things, my house, my livelihood. I respect those sentiments. But Jesus there [pointing to a cross at the makeshift stage] was nailed to the cross and from there he does not let us down.”