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.