TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. There was a man who walked on a journey. Far ahead, he saw a large wooden cross.
While looking at it, suddenly, a voice said to him, “Take the cross to get into your destination.” He carried the cross as instructed. After a while, he got tired and stopped. He thought of cutting a portion of the cross to lighten it a bit. Minutes later, the cross was getting heavier again, so he stopped and cut the cross to make it much lighter. As he continued walking, he found himself at the end of the cliff. He saw a sign that said, “Use the cross to traverse to the other cliff.” As he was positioning the cross down, he noticed that it was a little short to make an overpass. It added to his dismay when he saw those who had successfully made their way while carrying the same size of cross on the other side.
I shared this with you because in our Gospel from St. Luke (14:25-33), Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Many fear the word cross. Most of the time, the term cross possesses a negative connotation. However, in the eyes of faith, crosses are fundamental and unavoidable ingredients of life. The question is: How can we carry our crosses and face problems strongly and fruitfully? Let me share with you three simple steps.
Point #1: KNOW THE PURPOSE. Purpose is defined as “the reason why something is done or used and the feeling of being determined to do or achieve something.” It was very clear to Jesus what his purpose was in coming to the world until his last breath at Golgotha. The cross symbolizes Christ’s determination to achieve his mission despite of difficulties and hindrances. Having a sense of purpose helped him to see the value behind all the sacrifices he had to make. It led him to be victorious in the end. As Catholics, we are also encouraged to be purpose driven like Jesus. Otherwise, when discomforts and challenges of life come in our way, we can easily get disheartened and down casted. As the saying goes, “A life without purpose is like a body without a soul.”
Point #2: LEARN TO STEP BACK. To Step back means “to stop doing something or being actively involved in something for a time so in order to think about it and make decisions in a calm and reasonable way.”
Jesus had his own strategy and art of making steps backward to come up with better moves. He knew that it would not be good if, out of anger, he retaliated to the criticisms of the people. We, too, are confronted with a lot of disapprovals. Sometimes, it is tempting to hit back and get even. However, Jesus invites us to calm down and learn the art of stepping back which does not even mean backsliding. Rather, it is an opportunity to regain more clarity of mind, to hold on to your purpose once again, and to be able to think of better strategies forward.
As an author would explain, “No one ever won a chess game by betting on each move. Sometimes you have to move backward to get a step forward.”
Point #3: TRY TO BE RESOURCEFUL. Resourcefulness pertains to the ability “to deal well with new or difficult situations and to find solutions to problems.” Jesus was able to make his cross a symbol of victory over evil by his resourcefulness. He knew how to deal with hard situations in life and never allowed himself to be conquered by any discouragement or disappointments. In the same manner, we are also encouraged by Jesus to be resourceful in finding ways to overcome the different crosses in our life. They are not hindrances for growth nor avenues for failure. Jesus want us to be creative enough to discover possible, good solutions to surpass any forms of crosses that we may encounter. As what Tony Robbins would say, “It’s not the lack of resources that cause failure, it’s the lack of resourcefulness that causes failure.”