Today, on the Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we hear Jesus’ challenging words about cross in our own lives. By His victory over death on the Cross, Jesus Christ has conquered death and has opened up for us the possibility of new life. He has provided us with a way that we can follow in order to encounter the new life that He offers us.
However, if we are to enter into this new life and make it our own, then we will also encounter suffering and death in one way or another. Sometimes this will be the apparent suffering that results from letting go of those things in our lives that are not in keeping with God’s will for us. Sometimes it will mean sacrificing a lesser good in order to attain a greater good. But sometimes it will also mean the suffering that we experience as a result of our own brokenness and the brokenness of our world.
The victory of Jesus Christ on the Cross does not remove suffering from our lives or suddenly make everything miraculously better. Rather, He provides us with an example of how to face suffering so that it becomes life-giving and does not destroy or embitter us. And He assures us that He is with us in our deepest need, for He Himself knows what it is to be abandoned, rejected, and apparently defeated.
To turn to Christ in prayer is to be honest about the reality of our own lives. But it is also to find Him there, in the middle of our suffering and pain. When we call out “Lord, have mercy, Kyrie eleison,” we are inviting Jesus Christ into our pain and the pain of the world. If we are really honest, the suffering of our lives is too much for us. But, if we ask Him, He will come to us in our need, and He will help us to carry it.