“FOR YOU MY SOUL IS THIRSTING, O LORD MY GOD” (Psalm 63:1)
Jer 20:7-9; Psalm 63:2,3-4,5-6,8-9 (R.v.2ab); Rom 12:1-2; Matt 16:21-27
In his famous book, “The Confessions,” St. Augustine declared, concerning God, “You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” The prophet Jeremiah noted in the First Reading that the more he resisted the Word of God, the more his heart burns towards it (Jer 20:9).
It is not as if it is so much of a comfort following God. Both the First Reading and the Gospel talk about the presence of the cross in following him. Jeremiah expressed so much pain at being a messenger of God. Reflecting on that, St Theresa of Avila said, “Dear Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few.”
Almost everyone wants to be with God but like what J.W. Peterson said in his poem, “It’s not an easy road:”
It’s not an easy road
We are trav’ling to heaven,
For many are the thorns on the way;
It’s not an easy road,
But the Savior is with us,
His presence gives us joy ev’ry day.
No, no, it’s not an easy road,
No, no, it’s not an easy road;
But Jesus walks beside me
And brightens the journey,
And lightens ev’ry heavy load.
Indeed, it is not an easy road. Peter himself did not understand it, which is why he rebuked Jesus when Jesus told them about his impending suffering (Matt 16:22). But Jesus insisted, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Our cross may be so heavy but what makes the difference, as the poem above points out, is the presence of Jesus. Remember that Jesus already offered to help us when he said, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).
Do not look too far for your own cross; it is right there beside you. It is that pain that you are passing through, that need that is not yet satisfied, that sickness you bear, that disappointment you face, etc. Indeed, it is anything that challenges your comfort. Carry it with and to Jesus, you are sure to enjoy his company. Never think you cannot go on; look on to him and carry on.
Peace be with you!