At Dachau concentration camp, six prisoners were found to have escaped. Retribution was swift and brutal. Randomly selected, twelve people were hanged. As the other pris-oners watched their fellow inmates gasp for breath, some¬one in the crowd cried out, “Where is God?” Silence. The voice came again, this tune more urgently, “Where is God now?” “My God,” another voice yelled back, “my God is hanging there.”
This sort of faith is what today’s Gospel is all about. Christianity holds that God took our flesh, suffered, died, and was raised to life. We have domesticated the scandal of the cross, to the point that, these days, it dangles from vari¬ous parts of people’s anatomies. But while we have tried to tame the reality of Jesus’ torturous hours in Jerusalem, the reality of the cross in each of our lives cannot be so commercially soothed.
Christians are not meant to be lovers of pain, just bearers of it. We are invited, by Jesus, to see the burden of suffering in our lives as an opportunity to be faithful to his example. It also gives us an opportunity to be in solidarity with all those who suffer in our world. When we suffer in our daily lives, thoughts of others rarely come to mind easily, but it can be consoling to keep our suffering in context and know that we are not facing it alone. We are encouraged to see that suffering can be an opportu¬nity to grow in love.
Carrying our cross, is not just about bearing phys¬ical, spiritual, or emotional pain; it can also be about growing in compassion and the sharing our love, gifts and talents. Following Christ’s example, we are called to share our gifts heroically, with anyone in need. Today’s Gospel shows the edge involved in being a follower of Christ. And while we are invited to take up our cross and follow Jesus, we never do it alone. If we have the eyes to see it and the humility to accept it, Christ, literally, hangs in there with us every step of the way. So let’s recall the first cross from which we take comfort as we bear our own crosses.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.