It Isn’t Just About What Happens To You

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.

November 20, 2022

March 3, 2022
Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Luke 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

I have no idea how much TV or movies you guys may watch but one of the devices I have seen more and more is the beginning has something big happen. Then they put up on the screen “X number of weeks ago” and the movie or show begins.

That’s somewhat of what we hear today in the Gospel. First day of Lent and we are introduced to how this story ends – His Passion. He tells us how he will suffer greatly, be killed, and raised after three days.

He talks about how if we want to follow him – we must let go of all that we love and follow him – into that suffering he will experience.

That doesn’t sound like a happy thing. No one wants to suffer.

I’m not sure we understand the suffering part. He describes it as “picking up our cross” and carrying it daily.

What does that mean?

I think most of us think of what we suffer in this world. The physical suffering – headaches, family members, financial, etc. – always focusing on us. “What is happening to me?”

If that is the case, then Fr. Pat would probably say I am one of his greatest crosses. Yet, like Jesus, Fr. Pat, out of love of others, raises that cross daily. But how does that make Fr. Pat a better Christian and what if there is a day that he doesn’t feel like carrying me?

I think we need to rethink. I believe “we” are our cross. Our brokenness, our weakness, “laziness” in spirit are our crosses. We need to realize that it isn’t someone else – it’s us.

Yesterday, I went to a restaurant just after noon. It was a seafood place, obviously since it was Ash Wednesday. The restaurant was full and as I entered – though I wasn’t looking for anything in particular – I noticed there was only one other person with the Ashen Cross on their forehead. I was shocked because our area is full of Catholics. Clean foreheads everywhere and I was a little sad.

When I came back to the church, I was visiting with one of my co workers and we began to talk about what she heard a priest say. He mentioned that the scriptures yesterday said you were to do all this in private so he thought if you went out you should wipe the ashes off your forehead.

What I heard there was that we are like the pharisees – beating drums and blowing horns – to attract attention. If you are doing that – please stop.

Those ashes on your forehead are not a badge of honor. They are our admission of our failure to be better – our badge of shame. I don’t care if you notice my ashes – they aren’t there for you. They are there for me – an admission of my brokenness.

I ask you as we enter this Holy time of Reconciliation that you admit your brokenness. Wear your brokenness this Lenten Season and remember your life isn’t your cross – your daily failures are your cross.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…

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