The road to salvation can’t circumvent the cross

| Father Nathaniel Meyers | September 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Jesus bearing the cross

iStock/nikolaj2

As a college student, I worked at Byerlys’ restaurant in Roseville as a greeter. My job was fairly simple: Welcome people into the restaurant, get them seated and send them off with a friendly gesture as they left.

Well, that was the theory anyway.

The reality is that the job could prove rather complicated — because it involved working with people. Customers and the servers both had many ideas of how they wanted the seating to go. People had “their” booth and some servers had “their” customers.

For the most part, I managed these peculiarities well, but occasionally I couldn’t quite get all the ingredients to mix and, thus, the job was no longer simple.

The lesson I gained from that job is one that really applies to all of life: It would be easy were it not for all the people. As people, each of us just simply has a way of making things complicated. The Church is a hallmark to this reality as the Lord’s commands are actually quite simple; namely, to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Yet, we all know that living these commands is challenging.

As Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark describes, even at the height of his insight into the true identity of Christ, St. Peter quickly complicates things by immediately trying to impose his own ideas on the Lord’s plans. Fearing the idea of Christ being rejected and suffering being a part of the plan of salvation, Peter rebukes Jesus and tries to offer a different path. “Get behind me, Satan,” the Lord tells him in stark terms.

Each of us is chosen by God and our life’s purpose is fairly straightforward: to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with him in the next. When we follow God’s perfect plan as revealed to us in the Scriptures and the Church’s teachings, life will proceed along fairly simply.

However, this simplicity will require hard work and, in our fallen nature, we will try to avoid this and create an alternative path. Fortunately, when we make the mistake St. Peter does in offering a new approach to life, God patiently corrects us and offers us the way back to himself — namely, the cross.

The cross of Christ is at the heart of discipleship. We only truly come to know ourselves and our place in God’s plan by carrying the cross we are given. Perhaps the cross shows itself in a medical condition, a difficult relationship or a habitual sin. Whatever our cross may be, the key is not to despair but to realize that faithfully bearing it will secure us on the path to heaven.

Like Isaiah’s suffering servant in the first reading, our steadfast perseverance in God’s path will not lead us to shame or being disgraced. Instead, it will bring us into the land of the living.

Father Meyers is pastor of St. Francis Xavier in Buffalo.


Sunday, Sept. 16
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Category: Sunday Scriptures