I have been left with an enduring thought these past couple of days, a thought which came from yesterday’s Gospel in which Jesus instructs his disciples that if they follow him, they will face the cross.
I would suspect that if Jesus were to appear, most of us would answer his invitation to follow with an enthusiastic “Yes.” We wouldn’t want, would we, to leave the impression before him of a lukewarm response. He tells us though that come we may, but we will face the cross quickly.
In this Sunday’s Gospel from Mark we hear essentially of the same. Immediately after Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan and his glory as the Son of God is revealed by the Father’s voice, he is driven into the desert where he was tested.
Driven are told. Tested among wild beasts…. but supported by angels.
It is in the following that we face the cross. It is not in blazing our own trail or establishing our own way. Whatever difficulties we may experience in our own trail-blazing, they are never the cross because more often than not the difficulties experienced by our stubbornness in finding our own way lead to dead ends if not death itself – spiritual death.
The cross that we will experience in following Jesus’ beckoning always leads to life, new life. It is a gate, a door, a portal through which we walk, never alone but always accompanied — yes, led through — by Christ himself. And his doors lead to the richness of life.
Let us not give pause to the experience of the cross; let us not in fear turn back or hesitate to follow.
Let us live Lent this year so as to experience the portal to eternal life.