It is day 22 of our Great Lenten Journey and now that we are past the half-way point, things are getting serious. Now that we are over the hump (as they say) our journey will begin to go by much faster as there are every day fewer days ahead than behind us. Of course, we know intellectually that time doesn’t go by any faster, but before you realize it, we will be entering Holy Week. After the half-way point of Great Lent, themes shift, and our minds are ever closer to what really matters – the Cross of Christ.
Yesterday we venerated the Holy Cross of Christ, while looking ahead to the Resurrection. As we bowed in honor before the Cross, we sang, “We venerate you Cross O Christ, and we glorify Your Holy Resurrection.” This hymn reminds us what really matters in our Great Lenten Journey. We are going to struggle, but we will overcome our struggle in the Resurrection of Christ. Now is our chance to focus on the struggle part of our life.
Yesterday we heard the invitation of Christ to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him into heaven. Today is our chance to act on His call. Our Great Lenten Journey is only 40 days, which doesn’t allow for much delay. 40 days isn’t much time and wasting even a few can affect our journey. Now that we are getting closer is the time to get serious if you have been waiting or distracted. If you wait much longer, it may be too late to accomplish any substantial benefit.
Taking up your cross is about your personal struggle to live the Christian life. Each person has a unique struggle, while at the same time a communal experience. Our role as Christians is to accept the truth that living the Christian life in the secular world is not easy. It requires the willingness to “lose” our life in society at timers in favor of gaining our life in Christ as I wrote in “It is possible to be a Saint.” When we experience social death (shunning etc) it becomes even more important to have a Church family for support. Our communal experience is expressed in our willingness to hold others up when their cross becomes difficult, and to be held up when our cross is difficult.
The Church isn’t about removing each other’s cross. It is about assisting each other by lifting them up. Just as the Cross of Christ (as we will hear during Holy Week) was carried by Joseph of Arimathea, we can help others in the Church carry their cross, but eventually we must each climb up on our cross. The reminder yesterday was that we don’t climb the cross without hope. We still have the resurrection.