Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and petition;
and they shall look on him whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,
and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a
On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great
as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
On that day there shall be open to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for
you, O Lord my God. O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O
Lord my God. Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O
Lord my God. Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O
Lord my God. You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O
Lord my God.
Brothers and sisters:
Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s descendant,
heirs according to the promise.
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them
and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
His cross is obvious where people meet, live, or
are dead. That’s right. Didn’t Jesus say that if we want to
be considered his followers, that we have to take that cross
upon our shoulders every day?
Before I can say much to you folks about this, I have to
figure it out for myself as well, as far as my own cross is
concerned. And quite frankly, I sometimes wonder what that
really means. I know what it use to mean to me when I was
much younger. I know what I was taught it should mean to me.
Every time something bad happened to me, family members, and
others that I knew would say that my pain and suffering were
a participation in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
No matter it be a toothache, headache, stomach problem,
arthritis, back pain, any kind of suffering. But isn’t pain
and suffering NOT just limited to our physical bodies? Isn’t
our cross often times, or at least sometimes, and for many
folks, all of the time, also mental, emotional, and do we
consider spiritual? Can depression, or panic disorder, or
anxiety disorder, compulsive disorders, any form of mental
disorder, also be our cross?
I wrote a book several years ago, and one of the chapters I
entitled, “Black Friday,” at that time, was the darkest day
in my life as I suffered a mental breakdown. That actually
happened in January of 1991. The book is called, “And The
Walls Came Tumbling Down.” It was not an easy book to write,
and most certainly not easy to read, and actually wasn’t
really about me so much as it was about my wife Joyce, who
stood by me during the worse year of my life. Talk about a
cross, we both had to carry one.
Perhaps pain itself is not our suffering, maybe or rather
the limitations that it places on us. Have you ever been
told, “Well, that is part of your cross, that is part of
your suffering? In this kind of mysticism, some would even
go so far as to say, “How happy are you that you are called
to suffer, because God sends crosses only to those He loves
and trusts! If that were true, perhaps we might be tempted
now and then to shout to God, “Can you please stop loving me
so much?” But the reality is my friends is that God does not
send us any cross, but rather life itself, this journey we
are on, creates the many crosses that we have to carry. God
only gives us good things. He does not give us bad things.
The bad, the pain, the suffering comes from our own
particular experience of life itself, does it not?
When Jesus spoke about his cross in this Gospel reading, the
people who listened did not yet know that he would suffer
and die on a cross. He knew, we know now, but they didn’t.
So, when he was talking to them, he could not have been
referring to the cross on which he was going to die. There is another thing. He told his
followers that they should carry their cross daily. He most
certainly carried more than just that big tree that he
carried to Calvary maybe an hour or so, and even helped by
that man from an African town called Cyrene, by the name of
Simon. Did he not have to endure the mental cross as well,
the knowing that he was going to suffer tremendous and die
for all our sins? Wasn’t that not what he went through in
the Garden on that night when he was praying to His Father?
He must have mostly been speaking about the cross he was
carrying at the moment that he spoke, the things he was
doing day by day. We know what those activities were. They
were his constant struggle against the sin around him in all
of its forms. The sin of injustice in the temple services,
where some profited from the piety and guilt feelings of the
poor and the miserable. The sin of injustice in human
relations, as when he defended the adulterous woman against
her hypocritical oppressors and told her to sin no more.
Name a sin, call out an injustice, and Jesus would be seen
struggling against it – not violently, but very powerfully –
every day, every hour. Perhaps it was in that way that he
made enemies who would eventually nail him on the cross. It
was in that way the he carried his cross every day, long
before his actual death.
I don’t know all there is to know about pain and suffering –
how to carry it daily in our lives as Jesus must have done.
I guess that the only way I know to deal with denying
myself, ourselves, and picking up our crosses daily, is
through acceptance, patience, most certainly prayer, and the
hope of a better tomorrow, We can care for each other,
embrace each other’s pain, listen to each other’s hurting
hearts and souls, be gentle and kind, and most of all,
realize that we don’t know the pain of another until we have
walked in their shoes, and that is not going to happen.
As much as I might believe that I suffer, that I carry my
cross, there are still others who suffer far greater pain,
trials, and misfortunes than I. The cross of loneliness, of
abandonment, of another’s addiction that affects a whole
family, of homelessness, of not having adequate heal care or
insurance, loss of a loved one, and so many more. We don’t
have to go this journey alone, but rather with each other,
and with Jesus who truly knows what it is to deny oneself
and pick up their cross. Remember, in anguish while in the
Garden, and on the cross, he cried out to his Father. He
expects that we will do the same. He not only picked it up
his cross and carried it, he was nailed to it, because he
decided to give us the ultimate gift of love – his own life
– that we might lose our pain in this life for the new
eternal life that awaits us at our journeys end.
God bless you, and may you all have a wonderful week ahead.