At last week’s Interfaith Gathering for Peace, the Rev. Mary Carter Greene, congregants and visitors wrote messages of peace on rocks and spread them throughout the city.
Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart. So does the prophet and poet Jeremiah sing of his calling.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells his disciples that if they want to become his followers, they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him. On the surface these words do not seem to promise joy and delight of heart, then or now. But what does denying ourselves and taking up our cross actually mean? What exactly is our cross?
Bearing our cross is not necessarily the hard and dramatic ascent of Calvary; most often it happens in the ordinary details of our lives: we pick up and carry the cross whenever we put aside our own selfish impulses and choose instead to share God’s love with others. We cannot follow Jesus until we turn the swords of hate and greed and fear into the plowshares of kindness and blessing.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us exactly how to cultivate the spirit of self-denial that Jesus requires of us: love one another … persevere in prayer … extend hospitality … live in harmony … bless those who persecute you … overcome evil with good. Reread the passage during the week, and see where in your life you can pause, stop and pick up your cross.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.
This reflection was written by Peter Grace, a member of the cathedral congregation since 2010 and a 2014 graduate of Education for Ministry. He is a co-facilitator of the Thursday Bible study and 4:30 Sunday book study group.