In our Gospel reading today, we hear Jesus saying, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This always reminds me of a story.
A woman came to Jesus and said, “Lord, I cannot carry the cross you have given me any longer. It is just too big. May I trade it in for someone else’s cross? It seems that everyone else has a cross much smaller than mine.” Jesus answered, “Certainly.” He then led her to a large room that was filled with the crosses of others. Upon entering, the woman set her cross amidst the many others. As she began wandering around the room looking for a cross to trade for hers, she noticed that all of the crosses were large, heavy and rough. After much time perusing the many crosses in the room, she came upon one that was much smaller than the others. She pointed it out to Jesus and said, “There, that is the one that I want.” Jesus replied, “My daughter, that is the one that you came in with.”
Taking up our cross daily and following after Jesus is no picnic. But Jesus never promised us a rose garden. Quite the contrary. Time and time again He warned of how difficult following Him would be. Being a Christian takes a lot of strength, and every day is a great day to work out our cross-carrying muscles. But always remember this: the strength to carry your cross does not come from you. It comes from God. But He will provide it aplenty.
Father, forgive us for those times when we think that our cross is just too big to carry. Give us the strength we need to take up our cross daily and follow after Jesus. Amen.