“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
When was the last time we were asked to lay down our lives for our faith? When were we last asked to pit our Christian way of life against the ways of the world and take a stand? Is it too easy to be a Christian, or too hard? If being a Christian does not involve a personal Cross for each of us, are we doing it wrong?
Our faith makes demands of us. Belonging to the Church means sacrificing for Her. We give of our gifts because we recognize them as gifts from the God who suffered greatly for us, was rejected, and was killed for our salvation. The gifts we receive by living in relationship with Jesus are unimaginably great and manifold, yet these gifts demand a generous response. We are called to take up our Cross in gratitude, not as a condition for receiving gifts, for they were freely given to us, but in thanksgiving to and imitation of Jesus. Ours is not a comfortable faith but a sacrificial way of life in imitation of the Lamb of God.
In our generosity to those in need we find the true joy of being instruments of God’s grace for others. In professing and defending our faith in the public square we find the joy of standing in the place of Christ the Victim. In taking up our crosses we find the fulfilment of that ancient hymn which proclaims: “Ave, Crux, spes unica!” Hail, O Cross, our only hope!