Advent Reflection: The place of the Cross in the Life of a Christian
I cannot tell a lie. While I love the gift of Jesus on the Cross, which gains for us our salvation, I cannot say that I really embrace the cross. Too much of me wants a life of Christianity that rewards me for doing the right thing, and as such to make my life easy. I am not proud of it. It is the way it is.
But I can ask God for the grace to embrace the cross when it comes. I believe that God has helped me to do so at previous points of my life. And if I am to be the saint God desires me to be, the path will be through the cross. This does not mean I go looking for trouble, but rather I have to acknowledge my need for continual conversion, which can only happen by embracing the cross.
Today we celebrate a great Spaniard. Saint John of the Cross is certainly one of the great Spanish poets. But more importantly, he worked tirelessly alongside Saint Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus) to reform the Carmelite Order. Rather than being celebrated universally for his great mysticism, he was punished with imprisonment and ill-treatment.
He chose to refer to himself as Saint John of the Cross, and given the accounts of his sufferings and persecutions, it is easy to see how the name gave rise to his mysticism. It is easy to see the fruits of his embracing the cross in the magnificent poetry he composed, and the commentaries he wrote about it.
In thinking of an Advent reflection we do not always bring the cross to mind. But the Church gives us this feast today. Right in the middle of Advent. It serves as a fitting reminder, that when we look around the world and see others who experience the cross on a daily basis, we need to ask ourselves how is it I follow Jesus in the midst of hardship?
The cross was part of Saint John of the Cross’ life because of his desire to lead a life of deep contemplation. For many in our world, the cross is poverty, or loneliness, or a lack of meaning. But as I think of my life, perhaps the biggest hardship I carry is the one that leads me to think I can live the Christian life without embracing the cross. In this advent reflection, and on this day, may Saint John of the Cross pray I may embrace the cross of Jesus that leads to holiness.
Each day during the season of Advent, you will find an advent reflection from faculty and students at Christian Brothers College High School. To find all the reflections, go to our Advent Reflections page.