Let me repeat some obvious truths. God is more powerful than any of us. He draws each of us to Himself. He wants to excite our hearts. He longs to fill our minds and souls with the Truth. He desires that we yield ourselves totally to His will. We are often reluctant to do so because we know we may be mocked, laughed at and persecuted. In truth, our fidelity to God and His Word may bring us pain and suffering. It is so difficult to follow Him. At times we don’t want to do as He asks. What He wants from us sometimes seems too painful, too difficult, and too burdensome. We want to flee and hide from Him. But we can’t. He is everywhere. He has given us Himself. Our salvation and that of others hinges on our sharing and living this Truth. So we must go on - imperfectly and inconstantly no doubt - but we must go on, trusting that God will be at our side.
One of the reasons we don’t always trust Him is our failure to understand the necessity and value of the suffering He asks of us. In our current world, many of us do everything we can to avoid suffering. We see little meaning in it. Like Peter’s initial reaction, we often scold or mock those who talk of it or seek it. We look at suffering as men do not as God does. What reluctant and unwilling cross bearers many of us have been! But Jesus lets us know in today’s Gospel that we can not be His followers if we do not take up our crosses and follow Him.
So what are we reluctant cross bearers to do? Perhaps these words of St. Francis de Sales will help:
“The Everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His innermost heart. This cross He now sends you is considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His Holy Name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last look at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God. ”
By taking these words to heart, we might recognize some of the crosses we most dread to carry are no more than toothpicks and, by God’s grace, no cross He sends will ever be too heavy.