There’s a little story told by Cardinal Basil Hume in one of his books about a nun who was having some difficulty with one thing in particular in the convent. She spoke to her Mother Superior about it, who curtly responded, “Sister, carry your cross, don’t drag it!” We all have burdens to bear, crosses to carry. Sometimes, we may willingly carry the cross, embracing it for the sake of someone else perhaps. Most crosses, though, are not chosen – they are thrust upon us, like Simon of Cyrene, pulled from the crowd, and burdened, for a while, with the cross of Jesus. A few decades ago, a colleague had spent a week in London, spending time with a Christian organisation who ministered to those affected by HIV and AIDS, in the days when life and treatment were very different. One person described his HIV status as having a gift wrapped in barbed wire. Perhaps his diagnosis at the time, as painful as it was, also brought with it a fresh perspective on his life and living. Perhaps he valued friends and family more, was given an impetus to take stock of his life – but it came at a cost. Whatever the cross we have to carry, whether for us or for others, it can often provide moments of beauty. There is a beautiful painting by Stanley Spencer of Jesus in the wilderness. He is sat down and in the palm of his hands is a scorpion which Jesus stares at intently. His face is filled with compassion and love. Despite the propensity to sting and hurt and harm, the scorpion is gazed upon with love. we read in Sacred Scripture, ‘By his wounds we are healed.”
God our Father, may we be strengthened to carry the burdens of life, the cross of our faith, and when shouldering even the heaviest load, discover the beauty of your healing love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.