Sunday, April 3, 2016

Next Stop; The Cross

Beginning today you are going to notice a change this week in the way the Church keeps Great Lent. Today is the mid-point (Sunday wise) of Great Lent and the Church lifts up the Holy and Precious Cross of Our Lord as a reminder of our destination. Much in the same way as a cross-country road trip, as we approach our destination, we are offered road signs that help us keep focused. Without them, we might lose hope that we will ever reach our destination.

Today’s Gospel is from Mark 8.34-9.1 -  “The Lord said: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

There are two main points I wish for you to understand about the Holy Cross and your Great Lenten journey. First, it is voluntary. Christ didn’t say, “Hey, get behind me,” but, “If anyone wishes to come after me.” Second, it is about placing heaven as more important than this world. “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

Great Lent is a voluntary journey for someone who desires to follow Christ into Heaven, and the Church has developed this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to remind us that if we are in a battle between the passions of this life and the glory of the next. That’s where the Cross comes in to play. Besides being the vehicle of Christ’s Holy Passion and therefore gives us life, the Cross becomes our vehicle for choosing Christ.

When we deny ourselves as expressed in our fasting from passions, we voluntarily join ourselves to Christ and dedicate our souls to His way of life. When we take up our cross, expressed in our Great Lenten journey to struggle against worldly things by helping the poor and attending more Church services, we voluntarily follow Christ into heaven.

Great Lent has been a struggle to keep the past three weeks. You may have even broken the fast or missed Church a few times, or more. That’s ok, because you still have three weeks ahead to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ. It won’t be easy, but it is worth it.....Next stop....the Cross!

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