Jesus summed up his teaching with a word that must have been gut-wrenching to his first century audience: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Now, his listeners knew what the cross meant. It meant a death in utter agony, nakedness, and humiliation. They didn’t think of the cross automatically in religious terms, as we do, for they knew it in all of its awful power.
Yet Jesus places this terrible image at the foundation of the spiritual life. Unless you crucify your ego, you cannot be my follower.
But how should we take up our own cross? It requires not just being willing to suffer, but being willing to suffer as Jesus did, absorbing violence and hatred through our forgiveness and non-violent love, thereby transforming it.
We turn to Jesus on his cross and carry ours in imitation–loving what he loved, despising what he despised. We “come after him” through own sacrificial love.
“We turn to Jesus on his cross and carry ours in imitation–loving what he loved, despising what he despised.”
– Father Robert Barron