To all those who follow him, Jesus reminds them that following him isn’t an easy option. Jesus is very clear: “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:27).
Everyone knew what the cross was—a painful and humiliating instrument of torture suffered by the condemned. Jesus himself will end up condemned to die an unjust death on a cross. Jesus uses the image of the cross to speak of the sometimes painful and incomprehensible consequences of following in his footsteps and being his disciple.
Whoever follows Jesus, sooner or later, will have to carry the cross in the Master’s image.
When Jesus speaks of the cross, he isn’t simply talking about suffering.
Bearing the cross isn’t just a matter of making sacrifices, much less mortifying oneself or seeking pain as something desirable.
The cross is synonymous with extreme love, like that of Jesus: a kind of love that has no limits and is generous and self-sacrificing, a love that doesn’t break despite misunderstanding, loneliness, or rejection.
“When Jesus speaks of the cross, he isn’t just talking about suffering. The cross is synonymous with extreme love, like that of Jesus.” Bishop @silviojbaez #Jesus #LoveTweet
The price of love is the cross. The cross is the price we pay when we love others with authentic and faithful love. To take up the cross is to assume responsibility for others, making our life a generous gift so that their existence may be more bearable and happy.
To take up the cross is to live and proclaim the great values of the Gospel, without becoming discouraged or backing down, even when this brings us difficulties.
Therefore, it’s useless to be a disciple of Jesus while living in fear and silence in the face of injustice, trying—often uselessly—to avoid suffering the reprisals of the powerful. Those who spend their lives trying to avoid problems and conflicts are useless because they risk becoming accomplices of tyrants and oppressors.
Taking up the cross also means lowering ourselves to the real world of the poor and victimized in order to stand by their side, feel their anguish, and fight for their dignity and freedom.
Above all, taking up the cross means assuming the painful consequences of the struggle to eliminate the suffering of all those crucified by society.
“It isn’t easy to follow Jesus, but it isn’t impossible.” Bishop @silviojbaez #Jesus #followTweet
It isn’t easy to follow Jesus, but it isn’t impossible. It is possible when we follow him not as the result of our own effort, but as a gift we receive from above.
We become disciples of Jesus when we turn our gaze to him and humbly allow his love to enlighten us, comfort us, and strengthen us. His words are unforgettable: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn 15:16); “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
Silvio José Báez, o.c.d.
Auxiliary Bishop of Managua
Homily, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (excerpt)
4 September 2022
Translation from the Spanish text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Featured image: Bishop Báez weeps with one of the mothers whose child was killed in the Nicaraguan government’s violent suppression of the civic protests in Nicaragua during the spring and summer of 2018. Image credit: Facebook / @sj.baez