We are all faced with many obstacles throughout our lives. We strive to be our best and to succeed in reaching our goals. But how much are we really willing to work and fight to overcome all the difficulties we are faced with? This is exactly what this Sunday’s gospel is about. The Lord said “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” These words are read to us at our baptism as we begin our lives as Orthodox Christians. Jesus tells us to carry our cross and follow Him, but what does that mean? Our cross is all of our burdens, our difficulties, our addictions, and every negative thing in our life that we struggle to overcome.
When we are faced with difficult times in our lives, it is sometimes easiest to ignore them. If we simply put our cross down, toss it to the side, we think our problems will just go away. Or worse, we often pass our problems, our cross, on to our loved ones and expect them to carry the burden for us. And then we blame them for not being able to fix everything. Jesus tells us to lift up our cross, carry our burdens, work to solve our problems so we can succeed and accomplish our dreams. We can’t just quit when things get tough.
We all have a cross to carry and some are much heavier than others. Some people share their cross with the world, showing everyone exactly what difficulties they have in life. Others carry their cross in silence so we may never see the true measure of their pain. We cannot judge each other on how well we each carry our cross because we can never know the true weight of someone else’s.
When our cross gets too heavy to carry by ourselves, of course we can ask for help. But we must always remember to try our best and do our part first. For example, you can’t always expect your loved ones to do everything for you, to carry your cross for you if you won’t even try to lift it up first. When we pray to God, we cannot ask for Him to just fix all of our problems. We pray asking for His help and He provides us with the tools we need to help ourselves and each other. It is not God’s fault if we decide not to follow His guidance. Today’s gospel reminds us that in order to truly follow the Lord, we must use all our strength to lift up our cross and carry it high.