Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Crucifixion was an excruciatingly painful and shameful form of execution, reserved for Rome’s vilest criminals and insurrectionists, cruelly calculated to deter imitators. Jesus’ teaching to carry the cross would have shocked and rocked his listeners.
Understanding that exaggeration and paradox are figures of speech diminishes the shock somewhat. But to carry the cross, was not, as it has become, a familiar metaphor for enduring suffering.
Jesus is a servant, a suffering messiah, not a world-conquering one. Sunday’s gospel is meant to sober us up, to remind us that, though we are invited to the joyful and wonderful messianic feast, the road there is not an easy one.
In what ways have you carried Jesus’ cross?