(Jeremiah 20:7-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27)

Suffering as we know is the bearing or undergoing of pain or distress. Suffering can raise difficult questions about why God allows this to happen. However, suffering of one kind or another is inevitable and so it remains a mystery. Why does God allow us to suffer and undergo pain? I can say that God must have his reasons for allowing such suffering but the reasons are beyond human absolute understanding.

Owing to too many ‘challenges’ , ‘pains’ and ‘troubles’ which one’s faith and Christian commitment bring, there are times in our Christian life journey when one feels like forsaking one’s Christian faith with its demands of unrelenting hope, trust, love, straightforwardness, honesty, stand for justice and so on.

No matter the kind of suffering or challenging situations which you may be passing through today, the Church enjoins us through this Sunday’s readings to see our own suffering in the light of Our Lord Jesus who comes to suffer grievously for our redemption and as well invites all who wish to be his disciple to carry his cross and follow him.

Jeremiah had such a horrible and challenging situation during his prophetic ministry in the hands of the people of his time who threatened his life with so many persecutions. In fact, at a point Jeremiah was almost at the verge of giving up his faith amidst his enormous suffering and persecutions that he prayed tearfully…

Like Jeremiah, sometimes we do find ourselves in similar faith-challenging-situation which stretches us so much to the point where we feel like giving up our faith to join the band wagon. We may say like Jeremiah. “Lord you called me to follow you and I thought this would be easy. But the path is so challenging and difficult.” In all these situations Jesus would still encourage us in the words of St Paul, ‘Do not conformed yourself to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Rom.12:2)… Carry your cross and follow the Lord!.

What is my cross which Jesus commands me to take up each day and follow Him?  *When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done. *Those things you pass through and endure because of your faith in God. *Those extra miles you go in your patience and letting go because of your faith. *Those moments you insist on loving justice, sincerity and what is right irrespective of the opposing pressures to go the contrary. *Those moments to remain steadfast, not giving up.

Whichever shape our cross takes, it becomes bearable if we carry it with Jesus and follow after Him. But when we carry our cross all alone or worst still, when we carry it and go our own different direction away from Jesus’ then, the cross will not only be heavier and unbearable but it will certainly become an object of inner distress, anger and resistant complaint.

May we find courage to carry-on with our cross in the Lord!