September 4, 2022, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 9:13-18b Phlm 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.“ Those are challenging words from today's gospel. Challenging… because, generally speaking, when a cross comes into our lives… illness or loss of employment or relationship problems… our first impulse is to fix it, to make it go away if at all possible.
Now, I don't think there's any virtue in enduring suffering needlessly. We should avail ourselves of whatever help we can. See a doctor about our illness, brush up our résumé and do active networking if we've lost our job, work on rebuilding a damaged relationship.
But some suffering can only be endured; some crosses can only be carried: the loss of a loved one, the death of a marriage, incurable sickness… These crosses are part of the human condition. God does not send them, we do not seek them. It is how we carry them that makes all the difference.
When I think about carrying a cross, my thoughts turn to my good friend, Rob Sharkey. Our parish recently buried Rob…one of the most remarkable human beings I have ever known.
For most of his life Rob was confined to a wheelchair and legally blind. And yet for the short time he was with us he touched countless lives. Academically, he achieved what others would have thought impossible, two Master’s Degrees and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. He was an active volunteer in numerous parish ministries. And he had a deep, resonant laugh!
I think of that laugh when I remember Rob and I think of his wisdom and insights. And his deep faith. The cross Rob carried all his life was enormous. And yet, instead of crushing him, it shaped his discipleship. He chose joy over bitterness, accomplishment over futility, relationships over isolation. And in doing so, he left the world and many, many people better for having known him. What more could a disciple of the Lord do!
Most of us will not face the cross that Rob faced. But we will all have some crosses, because that is a part of human living. As disciples of Jesus we cannot say yes to some of his life… the friends, the table fellowship… and refuse the cross.
Living the gospel
Not all crosses are the same. Some are temporary, others are permanent. Some are life-altering, others, not so much. Some are visible to others. Some crosses remain private.
What have been the crosses in your life? How have they shaped your life as a disciple of the Lord?
by: Pat Schnee (edited slightly by Bill Miller)