The Second Station: “Our savior is with us completely”

February 25, 2010 § 2 Comments

One of the most withering responses to a burden disclosed has to be, “Well, I guess that’s just your cross to bear.”  The implications are clear:  we all have our troubles.  You’ll have to deal with yours on your own. The first part is true; the second part completely misses the point of Jesus’ passion.

As Jesus picks up his cross, two possibilities for entering the story emerge.  Will we observe, or will we join him? In observing, we say, in effect, “That’s his cross to bear.”  Only it’s not.  It’s not his cross at all—it is the world’s cross, a symbol of humanity’s obsession with punishment, death, and sacrifice.  In bearing it, he lightens our load, taking our heaviest burden for himself.  It makes the second possibility, the possibility of entering the story, more manageable.  For Jesus has been clear: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Taking up our own crosses is not really a choice.  We are already saddled with the burdens that weigh us down.  If we could have laid them down, we would have done so a long time ago.   This is the moment to feel that burden on our shoulders and to carry it willingly with Jesus, knowing that we are not alone.  We do not have to deal with our burdens on our own.  We can do this with glad hearts because, finally, we can know that our own suffering has a direction to it—it is headed somewhere.  Our savior is with us completely in the moment, shouldering the greatest weight himself as he leads us to the place where God will triumph over all that afflicts us.

The Rev. Hugh M. Grant
Curate, The Church of St. Luke in the Fields

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§ 2 Responses to The Second Station: “Our savior is with us completely”

  • Jared Spencer says:

    Great point. Another thing that’s so destructive about the “your/my cross to bear” mentality (to which I am susceptible myself) is the unrealistic expectation it imposes: that the cross be carried stoically, without complaint, the bearer secure in an understanding of the higher purpose it serves. It’s an expectation that distorts expressions of weariness into signs of weakness and feelings of despair into signs of selfishness. What’s so wonderful is that Christ wants to meet us in our weakness and despair; stoicism actually makes it harder for us to give ourselves into his care.

  • Mary Foulke says:

    this reflection is so helpful, both in guiding us to where our attempts at piety might go awry, and in discerning what “a cross to bear” really is: always something taken on, on behalf of others, with the Other. I think I have sometimes mistaken Jesus’ cross as being about suffering in and of itself rather than the act of taking on the risk, struggle, and don’t forget the joy of love. Suffering alone or for its own sake seems the exact opposite of passion… so when we enter into some stoic (thank you Jared) or stiff upper lip mode to survive a challenge, even if heroic, we miss the compassion (passion with) available to us.

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