2nd Sunday in Lent – March 13, 2022
What did the alien dandelion say to the earth dandelion? Take me to your weeder!
The weeder, today, is the disciple who seeks to lift up and glorify the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! The weeder, today, is the one who willingly and generously takes up his/her cross each day and follows the Lord with faithfulness and sincerity of heart. Along our life’s journey, we’ll invariably encounter many weeds that will try to prevent the Cross of Christ, from proclaiming to the world, the redemptive value of Jesus’ death on the Cross and his promised Resurrection from the dead. That’s just what weeds do. They don’t want to share their life with any fruitful thing.
Just as Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha, the cross that each of us are asked to carry each day is unique to every one of us. For some of us, the cross may be performing a difficult job. For others, the cross may be working on making a significant relationship better. For still others, the cross may be dealing with the doubts and turmoil we sometimes experience when we’re confronted, head-on, by sinful situations in our personal lives or in our lives together as a community of faith. The kinds and difficulties of the crosses we’re asked to carry are as many as the number of people in the world.
The trick is to allow the suffering that sometimes accompanies our carrying of a cross to have redemptive value. — In other words, to allow the cross we carry, to, in some way, bring greater love, light, peace or justice into ours or another person’s life, even if it may mean making sacrifices on our part or suffering on our part, because of it. We sometimes have the tendency to think that all suffering is bad or evil, but sometimes, the suffering that comes our way can be of value in helping us to remember our finiteness and the brevity of our time on earth.
Had St. Ignatius Loyola, for example, never been wounded in battle and not have had to recuperate for months in a remote castle, he never would have read the lives of the saints and parts of the Gospel that inspired him to become a soldier for Christ and to begin the Jesuit order! Like St. Ignatius, when we’re willing to let the Crosses we carry have redemptive value, we can keep the weeds at bay and enable the cross to have greater witness value to those around us, who have not yet come to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
We can also say that the Crosses we carry are a sign of our willingness to do what is hard rather than what is easy, if, by so doing, a greater end result may be obtained. Sometimes, in life, we may have the tendency to reason that, if something is too hard, we should just give up on it altogether. But if everyone acted that way, we wouldn’t have excellence in anything. Consider Olympian athletes! They most certainly would have had to have made many hard choices over a period of years in order to discipline their bodies, minds, and wills to perform at the heroic heights we witness when we view their sporting events! As is true in the athletic world, the same holds for the spiritual life. Nowhere in scripture does it say that when we become a follower of Christ that we’ll be free of burdens, trials and temptations. Nowhere in scripture does it say that when we become a follower of Christ, that we’ll be on easy street from then on —that prayer will be easy, that fasting will be easy, that almsgiving will be easy. Nowhere does it say we can just coast by on our past laurels, merits, or achievements. No, to be a Christian means being willing to tackle difficult, recalcitrant, seemingly impossible problems and situations on behalf of Christ and with the grace of Christ, and to view such difficulties through the lens of the Good News and Jesus’ vision for the Kingdom. To tackle difficult problems then, is part and parcel of building up the Kingdom of God on earth!
It’s part and parcel of the calling of every Christian, who’s empowered daily by the grace of God to do what is humanly impossible to do alone. Indeed, the weeds we sometimes most need to root out, are our lethargy, laziness, and lack of motivation to do what we know needs to be done, in order to advance God’s reign.
The cross of Christ is also an expression of God’s infinite love for us and the extent to which God is willing to go to prove what that love means for us. If human parents have an instinctive love for their children when they’re born and are even willing to die for them, if it’s necessary, for their children to survive, I’d venture to claim that most parents wouldn’t think twice about it! The same is true in Christianity. Consider that, in no other world religion, does God Almighty divest himself of his divine glory, take on human flesh, and suffer and die a most violent death at the hands of human beings, so as to forgive our sins and enable us to be one with God in Heaven! What is such an act, but an act of love, through and through? I think too of the many saints that accepted death rather than renouncing their faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ for some lesser God! Their witness demonstrates to all ages that their love of God was genuine! It coursed through their veins, was breathed in and out with every breath, and gave them the courage to imitate our Savior’s own love for them by paying the ultimate cost with their very lives. When we doubt God’s divine love, we make a mockery of Jesus’ crucifixion and allow a weed to gain a foothold in our lives. When we take God’s love for granted, by not repenting of our sins, we allow a weed to gain a foothold in our lives. When we think that we’re unworthy of God’s love because of our sinfulness and fear approaching God, we allow a weed to gain a foothold in our lives.
Whenever we find our love of God being called into question or challenged by some life event, we should recall the words of the first letter of John 4: 10, in which John proclaims, “This is love, not at we loved God, but that he loved us and sent us his Son as an atoning sacrifice for sin.” Read that over, time and time again, until you really believe it and can call it forth when you need that reassurance the most!
Consider too, that if the cross of Christ were the end of the story, we’d indeed be people without life, without hope, without the experience of the transcendent nature of love to endure beyond all things. But the fact of the matter is….the cross is not the end of the story! The cross that crucified our Lord Jesus Christ and upon which He shed his Most Precious Blood and was thought, by some, to be the most effective means of silencing the Messiah, the King of the Jews, becomes instead, the means whereby God is resurrected from the dead, refashioned with an incorruptible body and soul, and made resplendent in the light of God’s eternal glory!
By embracing our own cross, the cross becomes the means whereby we can be transfigured as was our Lord, in our gospel for today. A foreshadowing of the life to come, the Transfiguration of Our Lord demonstrates to us that so long as we embrace the cross, no weed will ever be able to suck the life out of the faith that has been gifted to us and which has the power to save! No weed will ever be able to keep us from accomplishing what the Lord has given us to do on this earth! No weed will ever be able to silence the voice of the Father who acknowledges the Son’s divine mission and who, before his ascension into heaven, entrusts us with that same mission of spreading the Kingdom and announcing the Good News to all creation! So let us never live as enemies of the cross of Christ! Let us instead, embrace the Cross, remain close to the Cross, and see, in the Cross, the promise of our salvation.
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