Embracing the Cross

By Theresa Matula

What do you do when you are at a crossroad facing a decision between the temporary pleasures of this world and the permanent lasting happiness that Christ won for you through the cross?

If you are a Christian, the answer is obvious.

Give up your comfort, give up your power and positions in this world, and run to the foot of the Cross. Well, not literally. Spiritually speaking, give everything you do to Him. Choose the Cross for this world, and in the next you will be fulfilled with the promise of everlasting life.

Unfortunately, even though we know the path that Jesus says is best for us, sometimes choosing it is not the easiest thing to do. Often, there are roadblocks standing between us and the Cross. Because we cannot see beyond them, or perhaps because we cannot even comprehend what the Cross has won for us, we seldom trust that there is anything beyond the earthly pleasures before us. In order to choose the Cross of this world, we have to first remove what is standing in our way.

We must have faith throughout the journey that beyond the roadblocks, beyond the small crosses that Christ bears with us on our journey, and ultimately beyond the Cross that Christ bore for us, is lasting happiness in heaven with Jesus.

Our goal is to get there.

But how do we get there?

The roadblocks that typically stand between us and Christ are everything we’ve ever wanted. They are also visible and physically present to us in this world unlike the promise of everlasting life which we cannot visibly see before us yet.

Perhaps a roadblock is a dream job? Perhaps it is your boyfriend or your girlfriend? Perhaps it is money? Perhaps it is a position of high standing? Perhaps it is fame?

All these things are good, but only if they are ordered towards helping us reach full communion with Christ. If they are holding us back and preventing us from reaching our final destination, the pursuit of them is disordered. If they are leading us to sin, then they are absolutely a roadblock that stands between us and Christ.

Perhaps they are well-intentioned people who tell us that we will be happier with worldly pleasures? Perhaps they are vices or attachments to sins in our life that we don’t want to let go? Perhaps they are pressures from secular media or the world’s idea of perfect?

Needless to say, whatever it is that is standing between us and our faith, it will be perfect, that is, perfect according to the world’s idea of perfect.

As Christians, however, we must reach beyond the world’s standard and grasp for what is truly good. We must strive for what is good for our soul, not just our bodies.

For the human person, this is truly a burden— a cross so to speak— but when united to the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made on the Cross for us, our burden becomes light, our soul is refreshed in the furnace so to speak, and our hearts are made ready to meet the King.

To gain the everlasting joy that Jesus promises us in heaven, we must embrace the Cross, and through this Cross, turn to Christ. Next, we must order our desires and our actions towards what can help us get to heaven.

Everything else that is unnecessary must be removed, especially the roadblocks. Once removed, we will be able to get to know Jesus much better.

At the end of the day, He is the Way. He is the Truth. Everything He teaches us through the Church is for our benefit, and like a Father anxiously awaiting His children, He is there to clear the road for us if we only give Him the opportunity.

Then Jesus said to his disciples “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

Matthew 16:24-26
Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross!