In today’s Gospel Jesus asks the disciples “But who do you say that I am”? And Peter, correctly, responds, “You are the Christ!” To which Jesus responds by telling them to keep it to themselves and not tell anyone who he really is. Jesus then goes on to tell them that even though he is the Messiah, he is going to suffer greatly, be rejected by the religious leaders and ultimately be killed! He tells them that anyone who wishes to follow him must deny themselves and pick up their cross and follow him and whoever loses their life for him and for the sake of the Gospel will save their life! Jesus is letting them all know that they too are going to be beaten, stripped and spit upon just like he was as he made his way to Golgotha.
Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and to the cross was a journey of embracing all of those who suffer under the weight of their crosses, crosses placed upon them by human traffickers, by unjust immigration policies. An embracing of those who bare the weight of the crosses of racism, bigotry and marginalization. On his journey to the cross Jesus aligned himself with all of the victims of abuse by clergy, by church leaders, and anyone abused physically, sexually or emotionally. He is the Son of the God of Isaiah who walked with the weak and vulnerable.
Just as he embraced those that others recoiled from or found unworthy or “out of place” as his followers we are called to embrace them and welcome them. We are called to reach out the victims of abuse in our church and to call out and demand that their voices be heard. In midst of a nation so divided we are called to be voices of unity to those who are marginalized and threatened because of the color of their skin or their nationality or their gender or orientation. We are called to be voices of welcome to all those who are being turned away and chased down and deported. They are the crucified among whose crosses, like Simon of Cyrene, we may help to carry, even if for just awhile. And in the carrying of their crosses we may just come to know them better and to see Christ present in them. Whose cross might I help carry? Who might I let help carry my cross?