Monday, March 19, 2018

Following Christ - Mar. 25, 2018

Palm Sunday  Year B

Reading I:  Isaiah 50:4-7

Psalm:  22

Reading II:  Philippians 2: 6-11

Gospel:  Mark 15:1-39

It is easy to be an admirer of Jesus, but to be a follower is a serious challenge. In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, we hear Christ saying: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

It is not human to want to suffer. However, God allows it for our growth. Ours may not be a wooden cross like the one that Jesus carried. However, it can be painful in its own way. Actually, I remember once having the cross explained as anything that goes contrary to the will of the person.

For one it might be a painful sickness. For another, it may be the loss of a loved one through divorce or death. For someone else, it may be the worry about a loved one who is on a self-destructive path. For many parents, it is the concern why their adult children are not practicing their faith. For others addictions, scrupulosity, handicaps, difficult spouses or children, trials related to their faith, depression, anxiety...the types of crosses are numerous.

Sometimes, people think that it would be better if they had different crosses. I remember a story in which a person was given a number of different types of crosses from which to choose. After attempting to carry the cross he had chosen, he found that he couldn’t manage it. The moral of the story was that God is the best one to choose our crosses. He knows us better than we know ourselves. One of my mother’s favorite sayings was “God fits the back for the burden.”

We have the little annoying crosses and the seriously troubling and painful ones. What the Lord wants us to remember is that we are not alone when we bear our crosses. He walks with us.  Sometimes, we forget that. The beautiful poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson, is a reminder of this. When we are in our most difficult periods of life, the Lord actually carries us.  Praise be to the Lord!

 Reflection Questions:   Can you recall any suffering that you experienced that brought about spiritual growth?  If one door in your life closed, did God ever open another?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...Siguiendo a Cristo
Es fácil ser un admirador de Jesús, pero ser un seguidor es un desafío serio. En el Evangelio de San Mateo, escuchamos a Cristo decir: “Si alguien quiere ser un seguidor mío, que renuncie a sí mismo y tome su cruz y sígame". Cualquiera que quiera salvar su vida la perderá; pero cualquiera que pierda su vida por mi causa lo encontrará ”.

No es humano querer sufrir. Sin embargo, Dios lo permite para nuestro crecimiento. La nuestra no puede ser una cruz de madera como la que Jesús llevó. Sin embargo, puede ser doloroso a su manera. En realidad, recuerdo que una vez se explicó la cruz como algo que va en contra de la voluntad de la persona.

Por un lado, podría ser una enfermedad dolorosa. Por otro, puede ser la
pérdida de un ser querido a través del divorcio o la muerte. Para otra persona, puede ser la preocupación acerca de un ser querido que se encuentra en un camino autodestructivo. Para muchos padres, es la preocupación de por qué
sus hijos adultos no practican su fe. Para otras adicciones, escrupulosidad, minusvalías, cónyuges difíciles o niños, pruebas relacionadas con su fe, depresión, ansiedad ... los tipos de cruces son numerosos.

A veces, las personas piensan que sería mejor si tuvieran diferentes cruces. Recuerdo una historia en la que a una persona se le dieron varios tipos diferentes de cruces para elegir. Después de intentar llevar la cruz que había elegido, descubrió que no podía manejarla. La moraleja de la historia es que Dios es el mejor para elegir nuestras cruces. Él nos conoce mejor que nosotros mismos.
Uno de los dichos favoritos de mi madre era “Dios encaja con la carga”.

Tenemos las pequeñas cruces molestas y las muy molestas y dolorosas. Lo que el Señor quiere que recordemos es que no estamos solos cuando llevamos nuestras cruces. Él camina con nosotros. A veces, nos olvidamos de eso. El bello poema
“Huellas en la arena” por Mary Stevenson, es un recordatorio de esto. Cuando estamos en nuestros períodos más difíciles de la vida, el Señor en realidad nos carga. ¡Alabado sea el Señor!

 Preguntas de reflexión:   ¿Puedes recordar cualquier sufrimiento que experimentaste provocó el crecimiento espiritual? Si una puerta en tu vida
se cerró, ¿alguna vez Dios abrió otra?


  1. Your opening sentence is so true, Sr. Annette. Even non-believers admire Jesus. Psychologists and self-help guru’s base many of their healing strategies on the principles of Jesus. Jesus is trendy. There is a market for What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) bracelets and t-shirts, and no doubt they positively influence their wearers . But followers of Jesus show discipleship by modeling His behavior and bearing life’s challenges in the Spirit of Jesus.
    From my elementary school days I can still recall the Sisters telling us to offer up our pain, insults and hurts to Jesus remembering His suffering on the cross for our sins. It became almost routine to do so. I don’t ever remember questioning why things like pain and suffering happened. The situation just was, and the thing to do was ask for help and offer up the discomfort to God. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I was tempted to question why God would allow something to occur. Perhaps it is the sense of overwhelm I feel when I hear the stories of our cruelty toward one another. As a society we have pushed God to the sidelines. The absence of God in a society results in chaos and sin. Sin is the reason we have such affliction. The Cross is the bridge where evil is transformed into good.
    Job never asked why all those afflictions were happening to him. Billy Graham wrote: “The closest Job ever came was when he said; ‘Show me why You contend with me’ (Job 10:2). Job was sharing his agony of spirit with the very God he could not understand. “
    According to Graham suffering carries several messages. It carries a message of mystery. We have certainly seen a growing number of unspeakable tragedies which have resulted in deep suffering for countless people. “We don’t know the answer. And we may never know until God explains all things to us.“ Suffering also brings out the best in people and communities: compassion, unity, and comfort. If we were to call to mind any tragedy, we would remember first responders, emergency personnel and ordinary citizens who ministered in the midst of tragedy or violence.
    What should our attitude be toward suffering? Billy Graham suggests the following:
    “First, it should be one of worship. We ought to say, “O God, I believe You are the great and mighty God, I don’t understand all the things that are happening in my life, but, O God, I trust in you.
    Second, we should ask God to teach us all He would have us learn about Him, about ourselves, about others and how we can minister to those who are suffering.
    Third, our attitude in suffering should glorify God, People are going to watch us as Christians. They will ask, “How is it that Christ is so in control of his or her life that he or she was able to help others?
    The Bible teaches that we are to be patient in suffering. That’s the hardest thing of all… Tears become telescopes to heaven, bringing eternity a little closer.
    In suffering there is also… a message of warning. ..Are you prepared to meet God?”

    Billy Graham told about a time when he was boarding an airplane one dark rainy day. Once the plane got above the clouds the sun was shining. “I can assure you that above the clouds in your life the sun is shining. God is still there despite any tragedy that you may be experiencing.”
    Jesus embraced the Cross and it lead Him to Resurrection. Our crosses, likewise, have the potential to lead us to resurrection. Suffering can lead us to grow in perseverance, resilience, acceptance, surrender. It can lead us to forgiveness and compassion, of self and others, enabling us to release the hurts that have been crushing our Spirit and face the truths we have refused to deal with because of fear. Personal tragedy can be the ultimate cross but with God’s grace we can rise above the ashes and allow beauty to manifest in spite of the pain.
    St. Katharine Drexel fittingly said: “Without a struggle and fight there can be no crown.”
    Lord, Jesus, help us to bear our crosses so that we can experience the joy of personal resurrection.
    Pat C., ASBS

  2. Sr. Therese M. Warner, SBSMarch 20, 2018 at 9:19 AM

    Thank you, Sister, for the inspiring reflections concerning suffering. We certainly want to be followers of Christ and must keenly realize the vital importance of the cross.

    The following selections are from a homily by Deacon Richard Fisher:

    "Today we begin Holy Week, a day of floating triumph when Jesus enters the great city of Jerusalem. Next Sunday is another day of triumph, of lasting triumph. In between is a strange mixture of joy and pain, of sorrow and fear known to all of us human beings. We sometimes wish life was a bowl of cherries, but we know only too well that reality is often, for many, the exact opposite."

    "We may talk as much as we like about joy, contentment and peace, but only a fool believes that Christians have a recipe for a trouble free, golden future. We don't. Common sense tells us that life, yours and mine, is complex..."

    "Most of us have problems...The Church is not a club for the respectable and guileless. God is not the God of the normal. He is the God of everybody. There is truth in the old adage 'no cross, no crown'. Suffering is necessary if we want to become the person God meant us to be."

    "Jesus did not shy away from His suffering. His was a literal cross and He showed us how to deal with it. Take hold of it with both hands. Grab it and wrestle with it. ... Jesus took his cross, embraced it because it was his Father's will for our salvation. "...

    "Holy Week begins as it ends, in triumph., to remind us that suffering is a journey with a goal, not a winding road that leads nowhere. The end of the journey is resurrection, a new kind of existence."

    "The way to the new life is through the cross. It is the road that Jesus traveled and He accompanies us along the way today - and every day of our lives."