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Taking up the Cross of Jesus

BY SR HILDEGARD RYAN OSB

Sunday, September 16th, 2012 is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

Lectio: Read the Gospel from Mark 8:27-35.

Meditatio: Some background to the text, so that we understand its meaning. This Gospel contains Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus is the Messiah, and also the first Passion Prediction and its consequences for Disipleship: THE CROSS. 

Thus the teaching is that every follower of Jesus will have to follow in His footsteps. And this means taking the “road less travelled”. 

The “road less travelled” is the hard road: forgiveness, reconciliation, patience, getting up and starting again after failure, bearing with hardship and even insult for the sake of Christ. It means acting as a Christian in all situations and circumstances. It means living a life of LOVE. 

Spend quiet time with this awesome text.  Go to a remote corner of the garden. A seat by the Sea. Park your car in a spot overlooking the Lake, or a beautiful Park. 

Visit a quiet corner of a Church which is open for prayer. Hear the words: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. 

Allow the Holy Spirit to play on the fibres of your heart like a harpist in order to bring forth the most beautiful melody of your response to God. I share my response in Evangelizatio No. 1.

Evangelizatio is my LIVED RESPONSE to the sacred scriptures given to me each week by the Church for my formation as a Christian. If I don’t respond, they are merely texts on a page. When I do respond, they are my life.

I am responding to the call to “renounce self, take up my cross and follow Jesus. I want to lose my life for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of the Gospel. I know that self-preservation is not the way for me. And yet, at times, it’s so hard to take up the cross of my everyday life. 

When struggling with this challenge lately, I came across the words of Sr Joan Chittister: “…we must have the vision to do every day whatever must be done to make God present in this place, at this time, whatever the cost.” 

She is talking about what it means to be a Contemplative. I hear her words as a call to renouncing “self” in order to make every day all about God, not about me. When every day is about God, every day will be challenging, but ever so free. Whatever I’m called to do, whoever needs me, however the day progresses – if it’s all about God, then it’s magnificent. 

The Cross is sacred, because it’s about love, love, love… It’s not about anger, negativity, sadness and dejection. Jesus was predicting (to his disciples in this gospel text), the ultimate act of love: the laying down of His life for humankind. I am also called to lay down my life in love for others: this is the CROSS. 

In this Year of Grace, I pray again for the Grace to live a life of Gospel love: the way of the Cross. I pray again to make Jesus the very breath I breathe.

 (Lectio Divina is Holy Reading, that is, reading of the Sacred Scriptures. It is a way of life, not a method of prayer. It is about reading (and listening), reflecting, praying in tune with the Holy Spirit within me, resting in God, responding in the way I live, and continually pondering on the Scriptures). 

– Sr Hildegard Ryan OSB, Jamberoo Abbey 

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