Luke tells us that when Jesus was carrying his cross:
Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep rather for yourselves and for your children.” Luke 23:27-28
This scripture is also captured for us in the Eighth Station of the Cross:
Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
All: Because by your holy cross You have redeemed the world.
Jesus, as you carry your cross you see a group of women along the road. As you pass by you see they are sad. You stop to spend a moment with them, to offer them some encouragement. Although you have been abandoned by your friends and are in pain, you stop and try to help them.
Father John Bartunek in The Better Part wrote, “Amazingly, even in a furious hurricane of personal suffering, his mind is not on himself, but on those whom he loves. . . . This conversation teaches us how to carry our crosses – and Jesus promised that his followers will have crosses to carry, every day."
“Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Fr. Bartunek wrote further, “. . . Our acceptance of God's will when it's costly is the only way to exercise the virtues of faith, hope, and love that will restore our souls to health and holiness. . . . When God sends us crosses they too can be redemptive—just as Christ won grace by carrying and dying on his cross. We can win graces” for those in our lives, those who need them the most “through carrying and dying on our crosses with Christ, uniting our imperfect fidelity and trust to his perfect surrender.” Jesus taught us “salvation comes not in spite of or instead of suffering, but through suffering”
Fr. Bartunek wrote to the reader that Jesus knows we love him and that he knows we want to show him our love. Jesus knows that the more we show him our love, the happier we will be.
That rings true for you doesn't it?
Then he has these words for us in meditation, from Jesus,
“Here is a vast arena where you can love. Every time I permit a small suffering to come your way, if you accept it the way I accepted mine, you can offer it to the Father in reparation to the Father in reparation for the sin of someone who is still imprisoned in sin, and if you do this in my name, you will help set that person free.”
Meditating on this and building upon the prayer in the book, I offer this prayer:
Jesus, I see you carrying your cross, thinking about the mission the Father has given you. You remain sensitive to the needs of others. O Jesus, give me a heart like that! Make me love as you love! I tend to turn in on myself when I am given crosses of sadness or suffering. Help me, Lord. I want to accept what God wills for my cross, to unite it with your suffering, your perfect surrender as the Lamb of God to redeem us, to win graces for those who need them most, including those among my own family and friends. I want so much to show you my love.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, and due to his generosity and love, Our Spiritual Mother too, gave her whole self including her heart to her God, as the handmaid of the Lord. Mary's Immaculate Heart never left Jesus.
God has everything he wants but he only has our hearts if we care to offer them to Him.
In the book He and I, he tells us he is our “incomparable Friend . . . . So don't be upset by anything. Once and for all place your heart in Mine, in joy as in distress. . . . Begin right from this very moment. . . . Ask the Immaculate one for this grace. Her heart never left Me.”
“Step outside of your self-center. This will be a new way of coming to Me. Try to see Me more clearly in those around you and your entire association with others will be transformed.” Instead of feeling sorry that you were not alive when I was on earth so that you could be with me, be fully aware of Me in those around you. Serve Me in them."
To me this is Jesus's pep talk to help us, ok me, follow his teaching in the Gospels:
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Matthew 22:39b
“And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brethern, you did it to me.'” Matthew 25:40
Jesus knows it is our joy to please God, that the more we show God our love, the happier we will be.
Jesus used He and I, to tell me the Father has given me (us) many opportunities of pleasing Him. Jesus says, “Go to everyone without partiality. And since it's Me, give them your whole self. Go to the very outermost limit of your kindness. . . . Scatter kindness on everyone alike. . . . Don't I scatter My sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust? Widen your smile as you did yesterday. It glorified Me. My very dear little child, I'm counting on you.”
“If I have fulfilled you, it is for the sake of others too. Be ready to pass on to them with love all that you have received. You owe Me this; you also owe it to them. Believe with all your heart that in sharing this overflow of graces you will help many others. A river gives everything to the sea, yet it always swells anew. My little girl, don't you see, one can never give too much.”
“I'm waiting for you – already giving you all the grace you need, the grace I want you to make use of so that those who meet you will meet Me.”
Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Thank you to the Holy Spirit for orchestrating these meditations and scriptures together with the advice I received from the priest today, “Ask Mary to help you to give your whole heart to others, as she gave her whole heart to Jesus.” It was miraculous and true working of the Holy Spirit that what came out of his mouth was in perfect alignment with the Holy Spirit's teaching of me through my daily meditation books.
A couple parting quotes from Abba Pimen (sometimes spelled Poemen), a desert Father:
“If one overhears hurtful words and instead of replying with similar spite, restrains himself and remains silent, or, having been deceived bears it and doesn’t retaliate — through this he has laid down his soul for his friend.”
“There is no greater love than that a man lays down his life for his neighbor. When you hear someone complaining and you struggle with yourself and do not answer him back with complaints; when you are hurt and bear it patiently, not looking for revenge; then you are laying down your life for your neighbor.”
Those are hard, right. I found this that tells the secret – the secret is Humility:
“Humility has no problem believing that God loves us and will not reject us, damaged by sin and weakness though we are. In light of this love we can give up the need to be above reproach. We do not have to be perfect to perform the small acts of loving service that are right in front of us. Since the person with true humility has no self-image to maintain they can be free to do whatever God asks of them, nothing is beneath them.” from Cal Wiebe.