My Dear sisters and Brothers! It is an ancient story but it touches an ever relevant call for us how to follow Jesus. Our Blessed Lord once said that disciples are not above their teacher. That’s why he said to his first disciples and to those who were to come after them: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ When we celebrate Mass usually someone carries the crucifix at the beginning of the entrance procession. Some people feel honoured and important carrying the crucifix. However the cross which we find in our daily life is much less impressive and magnificent, our daily cross doesn’t make us feel honoured and important but quite contrary. I encourage you to name what is your own cross you need to bear every day. Even more I encourage you to talk to someone you trust about your cross, not to complain about it, but to acknowledge that it is your way of following Jesus, your own way of being a Christian. Carrying our cross day in, day out makes us humble like Christ because we fall. Carrying our cross day in, day out makes humble like Christ because we meet the gaze of our humbled Lord who fell three times while carrying the cross for our salvation. Carrying the cross day in, day our makes us humble because instead of songs of heavenly angels there is bitter dirt in our mouth. But let us remember that disciples are not above their teacher.
To finish this homily I would like to acknowledge that these days being a Catholic is not easy. Despite all the good things that so many Catholic women and men have accomplished over the two millennia our following of Jesus in the twenty first century is marked by ridicule and hatred. It can be, and it is very daunting. However in this daunting situation let us hear again the words of the Prophet Isaiah who prophesised about Jesus, the suffering Messiah, as we could hear in our first reading and let us hear in these words our own circumstances: ‘For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.’
Being a Christian today feels like carrying a cross, and not a light one, however more than every we also cling to Isaiah’s prophesy: ‘The Lord comes to my help’ so that we don’t become bitter and grumpy but we become more and more like Christ.
The Emperor Heraclius had to take off his royal robes to carry the cross on which Jesus died. I believe that our God has allowed that as Christians we have lost most of the glory and appreciation of past ages. We may feel now poor and marginalised in our society but I do believe that we resemble Christ now more than ever.