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It can be difficult to understand why anyone would willingly place a burden on themselves. We are bombarded daily with promises of a better, easier life. Magazines and lifestyle gurus offer us a better work-life balance. New gadgets pledge to remove obstacles or irritations and make our lives less stressful. It’s all a bit of a contrast to the message of today’s gospel, where Jesus says that his followers must take up their cross.
Why would we deliberately suffer, or take on a burden? Surely we should aim to make our lives as easy as possible!
Yet, we see self-sacrifice all the time. Parents make sacrifices for their children, and many people tend lovingly to elderly parents or relatives. Friends give up their time to listen and support each other. Teachers go the extra mile for a vulnerable child, and nurses, doctors, and care workers often go beyond the call of duty. Countless people give up their time and resources to help those in need, whether it’s raising funds for charities or offering practical support to those who are sick, homeless, or struggling. And it’s all done out of love.
When Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to suffer grievously and be put to death, they naturally react with shock, as it seems like a strange path to choose. But he is not doing it simply to make life difficult for himself. His sacrifice stems from his passionate love for us, just as we would sacrifice everything for someone we love dearly. Being a follower of Jesus means being prepared to sometimes put others’ needs before our own.