Today marks the third Sunday of Great Lent, the Gospel story is about Jesus telling us to pick up our cross and following him.
Week three is the midpoint of Great Lent, and we are reminded about what this is all about: the Holy Cross. Jesus knows where he is headed, and that in just a few weeks he will, quite literally, pick up his cross and surrender his life in exchange for ours.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Good News (gospel) will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
We are asked to bear, willingly and happily, our own cross. Each person’s cross is different, the weight of some far more than that of others, but whatever it is we are to embrace it, and to gladly, gleefully, bear it. But we are not told that we have to bear the cross alone, for Jesus is there to help if ever it becomes too much for us to handle.
Matthew 11:28-30 (RSV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
A single ox under a yoke has quite a task to bear, pulling carts or plowing fields. But, if a second, especially larger, ox is added then the other ox has a much easier task. And if they are the lesser oxen then that burden is all the more lighter. Jesus is far more powerful that we, and so is offering to make our burden (cross) much, much lighter.
As we begin to enter the second half of Great Lent the church chooses to let us know that if the burdens of this life becomes to much we have a Savior who is there to help, and all we need to do is ask. That help may come spiritually, or it may come in the person of someone who shows up at just the right time. We need to be open to the possibility, and willing to accept the help when it does appear, regardless of the form that help comes in. It may be in the form of another believer, or it may be that the person being sent is from outside the church. We are all children of God, and God will use whomever He feels is the best able to help. Are you open to help however it comes, or are you too prideful to recognize who is always in control and knows best just what you need?