“Take up your cross and follow me”
There are many ways to understand this command. Many take it as God’s way of saying we need to put up with all the sufferings that our bodies give us.
That’s true, but there’s more to it that. I want to use the example of the soldier to explain how.
[An aside] Ear wig: melodies that stick in our brains. When things trigger them, it’s hard to get rid of them. Happens to me in church all the time. The most notable example is in a few weeks; we’ll get to the Sunday of the St. Photinia (St. Claire) aka the Sunday of the Woman at the Well and the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.
If you can hear “Samaritan Woman” without hearing it set to the GuessWho song “American Woman”, then you have more self-discipline than me.
It’s the same with a part of today’s reading, but in this case the parallel is more useful.
In the army we would sing as we walked. It made the time go by more quickly, developed comradery, and taught us some valuable life lessons. One of the most popular went like this:
82nd patch on my shoulder,
pick up your chutes and follow me,
10th Mountain patch on my shoulder,
pick up your rucks and follow me,
That is what comes into mind every time I hear; “take up your cross and follow me”. The new verse might go something like this;
St. Mary’s patch on my shoulder
pick up your cross and follow me,
Why is this useful?
Think about it: what are these things that the soldiers are picking up? Why do they pick them up?
- They use these things to battle the nation’s enemies.
- They use these things to protect their families and keep their nation.
- Most of all, these things are used in selfless service and duty for something other than themselves.
Why do we pick up the cross? For the same reason.
- Selfless service and duty for something other than ourselves.
Is there suffering involved?
- Yes. Soldiers suffer. But it’s not about the suffering, it’s about the love (call it duty, that’s fine)
- Yes. Christ suffered. But it’s not about the suffering; its about love.
- Is there suffering involved for us? Yes. But we don’t count it as suffering. It is just the cost of doing what is right.
May God strengthen us as we pick up our cross and sacrifice ourselves for God and neighbor.