To accept the cross means accepting reality, and living the life I have as Christ taught.
Today’s readings can be found here.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be-el’zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master.” What will happen to us in the end? Hopefully, we will end up like Christ. This is not bad news at all. On the contrary, it is an exceptional spoiler that can help us think of our life from a radically different standpoint.
Ending up like Christ does not mean being nailed to a cross. It means remembering that “the end of Christ” is not the Cross, but the Resurrection.
Spending your whole life trying to escape from the cross means trying to flee from life itself. The cross is not just wood and nails. The cross is reality itself, the reality of my own life, which nails me to the here and now and keeps me from fleeing away.
Our escape strategies are many, and we insist on using them because sometimes we are unable to take the here and now seriously. We are like children at school, looking out the window, imagining how nice it would be to run happily after a butterfly instead.
What’s wrong with that? Apparently, nothing. But we must realize that we grow up not when we stop fantasizing, but when we understand that dreams need concreteness; they need to be grounded in reality. We grow up by understanding that the very basic things I am learning at school will ultimately make me capable not only of running after a butterfly, but of turning my life into a masterpiece.
Accepting the cross means waking up to the fact that if instead of rejecting reality, we accept things as they are and live through them as Christ taught us, then these “crosses” will not be our final destination, but our Easter, our “passing.”
Fear becomes our destiny when we don’t face it. Facing our fear means turning it into something we “pass through” instead of our “end,” our “destiny.” Everything we run away from keeps chasing us. Everything we face, passes. In this sense, we must strive and hope we end up like Christ: passing through to Easter.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio’, Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.