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Carrying crosses

GOD’S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico, S.J. (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2014 - 12:00am

“Pasan ko ang daigdig,” is a Filipino phrase which translates to one’s carrying the world on one’s shoulders. It is an exaggerated expression of the burden that one is carrying which one considers an impossible task to carry.

In our Gospel reading for this Sunday, it might be good to consider in a positive note the message that Jesus is trying to convey to his followers. It is not the world that one is asked to carry – just carry your cross. This message puts our feet on the ground. It also gives us the realization that following Jesus in our lives with this mindset makes things possible.

“If you want to come after me, forget yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.” This instruction is pointed out clearly by Jesus as a condition to be a follower. And this is the invitation that every follower CAN DO. In fact, Jesus does not promise us that He will take all our problems away. Rather, what he promises us is that when we come and follow Him, he makes our burdens easier to bear.

And yet these past few months, we have been bombarded by a lot of disturbing news from around the globe; news that tend to paralyze us. We hear of plagues, wars, and other kinds of conflict. They are happening not just abroad but also here, in our own country. Fear gets the better of us. It is in the midst of all these that  Jesus invites us to hold fast to his call. Taking up one’s cross is that courageous following of Jesus in one’s own time and place. It inspires. It gives hope. It moves people to go forward. It is the very stuff that brings about the best from people whom we consider heroes.

We need not look far. We have living heroes in our midst. Last week, I chanced upon an inspiring news article about Filipino missionary priests who chose to stay in Sierra Leone to be with their parishioners at a time when an Ebola virus outbreak was spreading in the area.

Fr. Anthony Patrick Santianez, one of those who remained with his flock, even recognized the fear of himself being infected by the virus. He mentioned that he was moved to stay because he wanted to be one with the people he was serving – to be able to share their fears as well as their hopes and dreams.

I am sure that there are a lot of courageous Filipinos who also show the same kind of character in their choices in life. Carrying one’s cross may manifest itself in a lot of ways: one may be a missionary working in a foreign land; or a teacher who makes it a point to always be present for her students every day; or even a mother who tirelessly takes care of her children without counting the cost. We continue to pray for such people of courage.

Perhaps it is worthwhile to follow these courageous examples by looking into our own life journeys:

“If you want to come after me.” This is a choice that only you can make. It has to come from your own heart’s desires to make that decision as no one can make that decision for you. After continually trying to listen to the teachings of the Lord and getting to know Him, what makes you attracted to Christ? What is the feeling in your heart that moves you to follow Him? What have you done for Christ?

“Forget yourself.” Forgetting one’s self is looking with an outward point of view. Instead of “navel gazing” and always looking out for what will benefit one’s well-being, the expanded horizon that one begins to have enables one to see where he is in the greater scheme of things. It brings greater creativity and imagination on how one may be able to assess one’s daily actions. It make us look into our self-serving motivations and see if these are in line with the invitation that we feel in our hearts to share God’s blessings with others. It gives us a certain awareness of who we are and what we are doing for Christ?

“Pick up your cross.” It has been a continuing invitation that “love is shown more in deeds than in words.” To put our heart’s desires, our learnings, and the words we share into concrete action is the step that makes us take the leap. We carry our crosses when we bring our faith in the Lord into action in our own different contexts. Though at times it does not become an easy thing to do, it becomes an inviting duty of our lives to do what we ought to do for Christ — out of love.

Carrying the world on our shoulders makes our journeys impossible. Carrying our crosses, on the other hand, makes us move forward.  The invitation however is not just for one person. It is for every follower who chooses to follow Christ. Isn’t it more inspiring to know that the person beside you also chooses to answer the same invitation that you are asked to answer as well?

Take heart that there are many cross-carriers in this so-called journey of life. So, carry on. Let us follow the Lord. You are not alone.

 

 

 

ANTHONY PATRICK SANTIANEZ CARRY CROSS EBOLA FOLLOW JESUS LORD. YOU MAKES ONE SIERRA LEONE
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