The Way of the Cross
Second Wednesday of Lent
“They will condemn him to death…and on the third day he will rise again” (Matthew 20:17-19)
On multiple occasions, Jesus tried to share with his disciples what lay ahead when they arrived at Jerusalem – his passion, death and resurrection. Early on in his ministry, he mentions this fact with some detail (Matthew 16:21-28, Luke 9:22-27) but the Apostles don’t understand.
Later, as he journeyed to Jerusalem, he explains again but much more pointedly – “They will kill [me], and after three days [I] will rise” (Mark 9:30-32) – but, again, the Apostles don’t understand. Finally, as they approach Jerusalem, he gives it one more shot. This time, he goes into even greater detail. He mentions being betrayed, condemned to death, mocked and flogged, crucified, and being raised to life on the third day. Immediately after hearing this, James and John’s mother asks that her two boys be given seats of honour – at his left and right hand – in the Messiah’s new kingdom.
They still didn’t get it. Do we?
At St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, surrounding the beautiful square is a colonnade with the statues of 140 Saints, most of them Martyrs. The arms of the colonnade stretch out around the square, as if the Church herself is embracing the world with love, and on her right and left hands are remembrances of those who drank the cup that Jesus offered to the Apostles who swore they would follow Jesus, even to death. Do we get it yet?
Sometimes, we worry about all the wrong things and we miss precisely what Jesus is calling us to – The Way of the Cross. And it’s not simply ‘tough love’ or a chastisement, as if we are somehow paying for our inadequacies. A caterpillar isn’t paying it’s dues to become a butterfly. It was made to become, as are we.
If we miss the point, we may very well live quite satisfactory lives. We may even find ourselves honoured by all the right people and, in response, many will seek our approval. We might find riches and esteem and power but sadly, we may never discover our truest self, the person whom God made us to be. Yes, The Way of the Cross is hard. It’s painful. It’s everything we would want to avoid in this fallen world but it’s also exactly the road we are invited to walk. The end of this road has never been death but eternal life with God himself.
1st Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28