Good morning, happy Friday and blessings.
All the great founders of our religious traditions offer secrets to the good life. Buddha says life is achieved when we have restricted all desire. Mohammed tells us that life begins when we submit to the will of Allah. The Hindu tradition urges us to find life by understanding reality is illusionary, and behind it the abiding reality of Brahman. The Moses tradition insists that life is found through obedience to the law. In Mark 8:34-35 Jesus offers us his clue to the meaning of life: If any wants to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For Jesus, the secret of life is giving it away. In some way, many of us learned from an early age that anything that is difficult for us to deal with in our lives constitutes a “cross to accept.” I hope that today we can walk away from that interpretation of this passage. That’s because I believe it’s wrong. Period.
When Jesus talks about our taking up our crosses to follow him, he is not telling us to endure the suffering that is out of our control. Jesus knows, he understands in the deepest part of his heart, that the gospel he is preaching will lead inescapably to the cross. If he continues to preach that gospel, the cross cannot be avoided. Rome will look upon him as an insurrectionist, and there is only one path for an insurrectionist to walk, the path to crucifixion. This is where today's message of taking the cross is. We were called to rebel, to be insurgent people against this oppressive system. To do this, you must take the cross and follow Jesus. Remember, the meaning of life is found in giving it away. Are you ready to accept this challenge?