BEADS OF JOY 3-12-12 “Take Up Your Cross Today”
©2012 James Dacey, Jr. OFS
Lenten Season – Day 17
Following Jesus was never meant to be an admirable way of life, at least the way the world would view it. We must remember as we follow Jesus, our choices and constant pursuit to continue following Him must never be influenced by anything or anyone in this world. We must not hesitate, but rather we need to immediately follow Him. "At once they left their nets and followed him." Matthew 4:20, "and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." Matthew 4:22, God without hesitation sacrificed His one and only begotten Son to die upon a cross to save us; we must in turn without hesitation pickup our cross and follow Him. The cross we bare maybe heavy, it maybe be hurtful, it may be beyond what we think we deserve in this life. I agree with those sentiments, but at the same time I will be the first to say; no matter how bad or painful it may appear, it pales in comparison as to being nailed upon a cross by everyone who hates you, to watch you die. We need to offer up this pain, for God will not leave us alone with these burdens. Jesus tells us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.
On your calendar today, circle the date, mark it with a cross. Offer everything you endure, all the pain that tears up your insides, up to Jesus. I know how hard this is, it's not that simple to do, but I will offer you the hope that it is possible. When you stay focused on Jesus and you know and trust His word and believe in Him, nothing will stop the faith you have inside. My life is not at all perfect and easy, oh how that would be wonderful. No, it’s far from that. Our life is entangled with challenges and attacked without rest in this world. I am far from anything that would even remotely resemble a saint; but in my quest for and desire to follow Jesus alone in this life, my life has become something satan desires to destroy. In the past many times I have compared my life to the life of Job. But thank God for such wonderful Godly priests in my life, both Fr. Gerald Mullally and Fr. Peter Calabrese both at two different times and in two different places both pointed out, that I should be thankful that my life has been nothing at all like Job's. But many of you can relate to that and many of you may have even thought that also.
Know that you are not alone my dear sisters and brothers. Many of us suffer with pain caused by those who love us and those who hate us. Become bold in your faith, you need not be arrogant, just be BOLD, stand strong behind the truth. Our true desire for God comes from the depths of our hearts and the abyss of our soul. He needs to be the only one to fill that place; never back down, or ever consider denying God to protect your own pride. He must literally be the very blood that flows through our veins. Consider this: You have been told to go in a particular direction for a good and healthy Godly life that can and will cause pain and challenges; but you have also been told, do not veer from the path set before you, if you do, eternal death will be your wager. Now on this journey you encounter others offering pleasure, promises and a good pat on the back for agreeing with them; the only thing is that you must go in a direction that takes you far away from the path that avoids death. But this path looks so wonderful, it seems fine, you feel good, and you’re not hurting anybody. It should be ok, right?
Do not be deceived by such a claim. Pain and suffering are not bad when you truly understand your life's focus and purpose in serving a powerful almighty God. God did not come here to save us from pain and suffering, on the contrary it will be through pain and suffering that we will be given the grace to follow Him. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:1-4. Do you see how we can be strong knowing well that we should never fear what this world desires to do to us. Always know, "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1:5.
Today's Challenge: Be BOLD. Yes Bold. Draw yourself close to Jesus in your prayer life, know His word, feel His love, love Him back, share His love. Defend His name and honor in a loving caring way. And always stay on the path leading to Him. Offer your suffering to Him, to further proclaim your love of Him. Also watch: The Passion of The Christ. See how He suffered for us. Allow yourself to feel His pain, it’s ok to cry, to really cry for Him. How can we not, we love Him so much.
Your brother in Christ Jesus & His Most Blessed Mother,
Jim (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr OFS