Disciple, without the Cross?

Fr. Francis Scaria

Smiley face There is no messiah without suffering, no church without persecution as there is no disciple without the cross. Cross is not one of the attributes of discipleship, but the very summary of it.

Jesus spoke of the daily cross. We enthusiastically venerate the cross hanging on the wall. It is easy to love the cross when Jesus is hanging on it, it is difficult to love it when I myself am hanging on it. As long as the cross is a wooden object, it is easily worshipped, but when it takes flesh it can be very unattractive. My sickness, demands of relationships, the call of my duty- all these make up my daily cross. When the demands Christian love is extended to loving the unloved, underloved, unloving and the enemies, the pain of the cross can become excruciating. Can I love and venerate this cross?

The ‘daily cross’ has a mystery hidden within. As long as I fail to see myself hanging with Jesus on the cross, I cannot live the mystery of the cross, because the mystery of the cross has a dreadful misery hidden - the ‘curse’. It is the love that replaced the evil nailed to the cross that made the cross an instrument of salvation. On the cross the curse becomes a blessing.

Every suffering is a cross, but need not be the cross of Christ. Look at the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus. The good thief tells the other thief, “we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong” (Lk 23:41). St. Peter explains this very beautifully: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?" Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God's will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.” (1 Peter 4:12-19)

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