This post ran as a column in the Sunday, March 28, bulletin for St. Michael Catholic Church.
Last weekend Fr. Park’s homily drew our attention to a simple turn of phrase in the gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was” (John 11:5-6).
Jesus loved them. So he waited. He lets Lazarus die and Martha and Mary suffer. Why? For the glory of God, so that some greater good might result. Even at our worst, our heavenly Father knows best. As Fr. Park said, quoting St. John Henry Newman: “He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”
This sort of friendship is not easy to endure.
Sometimes I find myself cross-shopping: Something simple and solid—oak and iron, perhaps—a 44 long would be nice, well balanced at the shoulder; nothing too ostentatious. Rough edges and splinters are a good look, and heavy enough that I can lean into it and know I’m carrying something…
The cross Jesus has laid out for me is nothing I want to bear—so I ignore it and turn my attention to others, pretending I can bear someone else’s burden and avoid my own, or that I can clear away enough unclaimed crosses to make mine easier to carry somehow.
It doesn’t work. The cross the Carpenter crafted for me is exactly the size, shape and weight I need—and no matter what else I try to do to please God, the cross He made for me remains unmoved until I take it upon my shoulders. No other wood will sanctify me. No other tree will lift me to heaven.
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.”Luke 9:23
He knows what He us about.