As a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief
your only Son was lifted up
that he might draw the whole world to himself.
May we walk this day in the way of the cross
and always be ready to share its weight,
declaring your love for all the world.
The above forms part of a prayer of thanksgiving for Morning Prayer during Passiontide, and as we move into Holy Week and having this morning been given a palm cross, my thoughts have moved towards just exactly what it might mean for each of us to bear our cross… or even crosses.
If we are incredibly lucky, we might feel that our lives are pretty carefree, we have everything to meet our basic needs; food, water, shelter. Our emotional needs are also met through our families and friends and we may even have a sense of financial security – a bit of spare cash to indulge in treats from time to time. Our crosses, although apparently light, are still with us however. Outward crosses that carry responsibility to everyone around us. How can we not declare our love to the world?
Often, as well, we carry internal crosses. The things that we choose to bear alone; things that we are ashamed of doing and saying; things that might diminish us in other people’s eyes; things that are not hidden away from God, and who alone knows the sorrow in our hearts and our desire for repentance. How can we not allow ourselves to be uplifted?
For many people though, the cross they have to bear, like Jesus’, is an enormous weight of worries, hurts and strains. Often it is borne in situations that are not of their making or problems from which they can see no way of escape. Daily life is a struggle and at times unbearable. How can we not offer to share their load?
For Jesus the way of the cross was one that he decided to take willingly. Yet even as he made his way up to Calvary, his human frailty caused him to stumble, allowing another, Simon of Cyrene to join him in bearing the great physical weight of the wooden cross. What was even more incredible was the immeasurable weight of the world’s wrongdoings, sorrows, grief and hatred that he also chose to bear. How can we not be grateful?
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you;
by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world
*Sue Symons explains that the large black circle depicts the weight of the cross and the white circle is Christ, diminished in size as he bears its horrendous weight. http://www.bathabbey.org/whats-on/events/bath-abbey-diptychs