The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Taking up the cross each day and living our lives as true followers of Jesus seem such countercultural messages in today’s world. These ideas were swirling through my head as I visited a family member in the hospital ICU. I assumed I would find her suffering terribly, taking up Jesus’ cross. And that was true in part: modern medicine has extended her life, but it has also brought other physical challenges.
Yet, even with her pain, I discovered that familiar bright smile and those loving eyes. She asked her daughter to put a French beret on her head to celebrate my arrival and she asked for all the family news. Almost simultaneously, we laughed about the absurdity of the bad dreams she had the night before and the tears shed about the harsh reality of her medical condition.
Then she taught me what Jesus means when he challenges us to “take up the cross”—to live life, even in the face of losing it. As I was leaving, she shook my hand, pulled me close, and looked me in the eye. “Always say yes to life. Say yes, yes, yes!”
In that spirit, what would it mean today for you to say “yes, yes, yes” to life on a deeper level? Would do you need to let go of? What freedom might you hope to welcome?
—Charlotte Ahern is a wife and mother of three college-aged children. She is also a spiritual director and retreat leader at Jesuit schools in the Chicago area.
Jesus Christ, may your death be my life
and in your dying may I learn how to live. May your struggles be my rest,
Your human weakness my courage,
Your embarrassment my honor,
Your passion my delight,
Your sadness my joy,
In your humiliation may I be exalted.
In a word, may I find all my blessings in your trials. Amen.
—St. Peter Faber, S.J.