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Cross of gold

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Luke 9:23-24
Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

In The Prayer of Faith, Jesuit Leonard Boase describes the “rope of prayer” as four strands: work, play, the cross, and mental prayer. What is the cross?

“At each succeeding moment of our lives we are held in a matrix of circumstances, and that matrix is at that moment for us the will of God. To respond with loyal acceptance of God’s will is prayer in one of its richest forms.”

This “matrix” is easier to accept when it consists of pleasant, agreeable things, which are as much a part of God’s will as are the painful. Our circumstances (and moods about them) range from joyful to tragic. We all have our share of both. Fr. Boase’s point is that we can choose to accept or rail against our “cross,” but it is the ground of every moment we live on earth.

He is simply echoing Jesus. Learn to give up your life, and you will live. Hold onto it and you will die.

But we pray for each other at church, often praying that our circumstances will change … will improve. “Is any one of you sick? Call the elders, and ask them to pray for you so that you might become well.” Those are the words of James in chapter 5. We are not wise if we invite suffering, or entertain it with masochistic joy. No. We ask for healing.

Still, at the same time we can learn to carry our own crosses and not be afraid. I am often caught in circumstances beyond my control, seems like almost every day. Sometimes those circumstances are just awful. And “this matrix is, at that moment for me, the will of God.”

God is working with me on this puzzle. And I am sure he’s working on it with you, too.

Lord do not let me go gently into the good night. You did not make us to be passive, to submit to oppression or abuse or ugliness. You made us to assert your goodness, your beauty and your truth in every corner of our lives. So give me the assurance I need every day that I can do that, yet still submit to you and do my duty by you, Lord. Let me run with joy in the path of your commands.

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