The image of each of us taking up our cross is woven throughout the gospels. Jesus makes it key to being one of his disciples. And this weekend we encounter it again in Jesus’ rebuke to Peter, who wants to spare Jesus the suffering and death that he had just described as the end of his journey to Jerusalem. There is no avoiding the cross, Jesus says, not for him and not for us.
But what is this cross that we are called to carry? The key, I think, is to look to the cross of Jesus himself. Jesus’ cross is the sin and brokenness of the world. And so it is inherent in the cross of Jesus that it is unjust and unfair. The one who is without sin carries the cross of others’ sin. Our sin. Yours and mine.
So what does that tell us about the cross that we are called to carry? I think most of all it tells us that our cross is not about us, but like Jesus’ is about the sin and brokenness of the world. We are called upon to carry the world’s pain, sickness, sin, because it is only in being willing to take on the consequences of sin that is not our own that the chain of sin can be broken. After all, that is what Jesus did and does.
Jesus was broken on the cross. Christ is broken in the bread of the eucharist. In this time when the church in the US is reflecting on the eucharist I think it is a good thing to reflect on the brokenness of the cross and how it is central to the brokenness of the eucharist. For Christ and for us. One of my favorite quotes about the eucharist comes from St Augustine of Hippo in AD 400. “Behold what you are. Become what you receive.” Let us be willing to take up the cross of others’ sin, of the world’s sin. To carry the cross and become its brokenness, that through his people Christ might bring healing to us and to all.