In September of 2020, we explored the theme of The Cross. Today, we revisit that same theme on the feast of St. Paul of the Cross. If there is anything sure about the Christian life here on earth, it is our encounter with the Cross as we seek to follow the Savior.
The theme of The Cross isn’t quite finished with me yet. This year is turning out to be a series of crosses for all of us, for sure. A worldwide pandemic, countries in quarantine, family members and friends without work, some losing the battle of COVID-19, a massive hurricane which took out cities and brought devastation further inland than I think a hurricane ever has. I live 100 miles from where the eye of the hurricane hit land as a strong Category 4, and we still had damages and hours-to-days-long power outages resulting from the hurricane force gusts that came through our city.
More days of work lost. More school days to recuperate later. Cousins who lost entire homes. Crosses.
We went to Mass two days after the storm hit and one of the readings was about taking up the cross. To follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. I’m quite sure we all felt the homily related to us individually, in every parish here in Louisiana where the priest was no doubt honing in on how that relates to us all right now.
We all want things to run smoothly. We figure we’ve put in the work, things should go as we had planned. But then they don’t. And we struggle. What we forget is that the struggle is the fire forging the iron. We are meant to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. Does God cause the terrible things to happen? No. But he does try to help us use those crosses to become better people, to do better or behave better towards others. He wants us to use the bad to create more good. He wants us to pick up the crosses we have to bear and TAKE THEM WITH US while we follow Him.
A friend came by today, on the verge of tears because her mom lost her house to Hurricane Laura. This devastation was bringing to the surface many old family wounds, compounding the struggle and the stress. SO many issues we’ve been able to ignore and seemingly put behind us have been forced to the forefront and demand to be dealt with, we can’t help but stand in the fire and hope we get forged into something stronger.
In the meantime, we feel we are melting.
We aren’t meant to melt alone. We are meant to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus. Maybe He will calm the next storm, maybe He will calm us instead.