Welcome to this week’s installment of Lenten Journey. This week the guest blogger is Joseph Wetterling. Come along and share a small part of his Lenten Journey. Please feel free to share your journey in the comments below and check out Joe’s blogs at joewetterling.com, hokaipaulos.com, and baptizedimagination.com.
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
When you’re a Catholic man, turning 33 can be as sobering as any of the big decade birthdays. That particular age invites certain uncomfortable comparisons to another 33-year-old. “Okay, by now, Jesus had founded the One, Holy, Catholic, andApostolicChurch, instituted the Sacraments, and saved mankind from sin and death. And I’ve done… what?”
It’s a sobering comparison but not quite a fair one: despite how I act at times, I’m not actually God. I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here, if we’re going to compare. However, the heart of the question is still valid – and it’s especially on our minds during Lent: What can I do with my life to honor God?
Jesus gives us the three-step answer:
- Deny yourself
- Take up your cross
- Follow Him
We seem to do well with the first point during Lent. We know we’re supposed to give stuff up. That’s what Lent is all about, right?
We give up gossip or foul language. These are things we shouldn’t do in the first place, and stopping for 40 days can be a more manageable first goal.
We give up chocolate or Facebook or coffee (or drinking coffee while gossiping on Facebook). These aren’t bad things in themselves, but by giving up small, easy things, we train ourselves for later denying the big, difficult things.
We’re pretty good at giving things up, but Jesus doesn’t stop there. Yes, He gave up many things – food, money, power, sex – but He also picked things up. He picked up a big wooden cross and walked down the road with it. We’re called to do the same thing, to pick something up, as well as put something down. When the coffee or chocolate or keyboard is out of our hands, we have room in them to pick up the cross.
Like the small things we give up, the cross we take doesn’t have to be a big one, especially not at first. It might be a cross of patience with someone I don’t like, or labor for a charity. It might be a cross of humiliation, because I need to say I’m sorry. It might be a cross of time given to my family or of money for someone in need. Whatever my cross, it’s something I won’t want to pick up. It’s something laying there right in front of me, and it’s been put there, for me, by Him. (cf Eph 2:10, James 2:14-17)
He never promised it would be easy. After all, once we’ve picked up that cross, the last step is to follow Christ. We know where that road leads. It leads to bigger crosses and to Calvary. He’s walking to Calvary, and we’re going with Him. We’re going to the cross.
But let’s remember, as well, that after Lent comes Easter. Beyond Calvary, it’s that same road that takes us Home.
What cross has God put in your path? Is there something that’s good, difficult, and requires you to love? Will you take it up today to follow Him?
Lord Jesus, help me to love like You.
Joe Wetterling is a professional instructor, catechist and blogger, and a proud homeschooling dad. He lives in New Jerseywith his wife, son, and a very laid-back cat. You can find him online at joewetterling.com, hokaipaulos.com, and baptizedimagination.com.