Good Friday: "Take up your cross and follow me"
When Jesus spoke during His public ministry He said:
Anyone who wants to be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me.
These words carry deep resonance in the context of the Good Friday liturgy. Now we know precisely what He meant. “Take up your cross and follow me.” In the words of Pope Francis, “it is not easy to follow Jesus because the path He chooses is the way of the cross”. This challenges our comfort and complacency. In many ways, we are sons and daughters of Cyrene, bystanders or passers by, and yet like our brother Simon, we are called get caught up in the messy business of our faith. “Take up your cross and follow me.”
We venerate the cross – “Ecce lignum crucis”. We kiss the wood of the cross, a tender gesture for someone who is dear to us. Yet everyone who loves knows that love is not merely tender gestures but sacrifice. The love that Jesus has for us led Him to the cross. If we are to be His disciples, we are asked to take up the cross … not just to kiss it tenderly, but to carry it, in our hearts and in our choices, wherever it may take us.
Of the twelve apostles who accepted His invitation, only the beloved disciple made it to Calvary. We are given second chances, each year. Even when we shy away from what looks like a heavy burden – and so it is - the love that Jesus has for us draws us in, invites us closer, to do as Simon of Cyrene did. No longer a bystander but a companion on the way to Calvary. Let us, as a community of faith, pray for each other that you and I may have the grace to embrace the cross, not only with our lips but with hands and hearts ready to follow Jesus. “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me.”