Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him…He summoned the crowd and with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
A lesson learned is a lesson well taught. If we have not learned our lessons well, then it’s because we have not been taught well.
In the past three days, I’ve been meditating and reflecting on the cross. As I mentioned before, the cross is only half a symbol of Christianity, for it is missing a very key component of Christianity: Christ.
It should be obvious to all that Christ is not the cross, for Christ was nailed to the Cross. Rather, the cross is a symbol of the sinner; that is, it is a symbol of me. Therefore, the real symbol of Christianity is not the cross; it is the crucifix. This is the true symbol of Christianity for it is the fullness of Christ’s ministry. Christ nailed himself to us, and He refuses to be separated from us. He is forever near to me, next to me, nailed to me. And that is very, very reassuring. Christ will never depart from me. He’s got my back FOREVER!
But with the loss in the meaning of the Cross, comes the loss in the meaning of the Christian. Let us never forget what the Christian does best: He follows the Lord, everywhere. Where He goes I must go. Where He leads I must lead. “If you wish to follow me, then pick up your cross and follow me.” Christ did not die for us so that we would have nothing to do for Him. He died for us so that we could die like Him, for our neighbor.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? …So also faith of itself, it is does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” (James 2:14-18)
Many Christians have not learned their catechism well! They think that an easy life is a blessed life. If you are one of the many who think that, then I invite you to think again. After all, there is no denying that the Lord lived a blessed life and a very difficult life almost all his life.
Is being a millionaire a sign of being blessed? Think again. I do not know of a single Saint that became a millionaire. I do, however, know of many Saints who were millionaires and gave their millions to enter a convent or a seminary. So, why do we think that in order to be blessed, we have to be filled with cash? Or, in order to be blessed we have to have a lot of free time.
If I have nothing to do, then chances are I will do nothing in my life. But if I have a ton of things to do, then chances are I will accomplish something in my life.
Take a good look at your life. Take a look at the decisions you’ve made. Now, take a good look at Christ’s life. Take a look at the decisions He made and the words He said. Analyze Him alongside yourself. Do you notice any differences in focus, interests, discipline, direction and decisions? If so, then bridge the gap! Bring yourself closer to Christ. If you do so, I guarantee you an immediate improvement in the quality of your life.
I think that most of us know by now that a life filled with pleasure often led to a life full of regrets and emptiness. Whereas (and most surprising of all), a life filled with struggles, pain, difficulties, and trials often led to a more meaningful, more romantic, more grateful and more powerful and purpose-filled life.
Tell me if you think I am wrong. But I have seen both cases far too often to doubt it anymore.
Christ nailed to the Cross teaches us four important life lessons: (1) there is no Christ without a Cross. (2) There is no Savior without a sinner. (3) There is no love without sacrifice. (4) There is no resurrection without crucifixion. Therefore, let us do as the Lord would do. Do not shrink from pain, difficulties or trials. Face them! Face them head on! Nail yourself to your cross. Or as St. Paul puts it: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
Every time I nail my triumph with Christ, I nail my future with His glory. Every time I nail my sin into Christ, I nail my faith, hope and love in His mercy and compassion. Every time I give God the last word, I turn my tragedy into triumph. Every time I die to myself, I rise with the Lord.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”