UNDERSTANDING THE CROSS
Of the list of nine beatitudes in Mark’s gospel (5 : 1-2) I’m sure most people can identify with at least one. And if that is true, then how blessed we are to know happiness is ours.
But there are a couple of the beatitudes that we may wonder about when it comes to being happy: Blessed are those who mourn, and blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of right. In each of these there is a cross to bear. And can we be happy bearing a cross?
Our Lady tells us that we can, and it is only in sin that we become unhappy. “I want each of you to be happy, but in sin nobody can be happy.” She also tells us that when Jesus reigns in our hearts and is our friend, only then we will be happy.
To accept Jesus fully and so be happy, then we have to accept him in all his ways, even the way of the cross – the suffering Jesus, Christ crucified. Our Lady reminds us in her messages that his death has brought us redemption so that we may be happy and in peace.
Our Lady also says that she desires that our cross be a joy for us and to try and understand how this can be so.
The late Fr Slavko Barbaric had this to say about the Cross in our lives:
“If we have understood the Cross, we have understood everything. But if we do not understand the Cross we will never understand anything of our life as a Christian. Our Lady wants us to understand the Cross because she herself understood it, not because she ran away from it, but because she accepted it, with her Son Jesus...
“She does not invite us immediately to accept this, but to pray in order to accept it... Our Lady wants to teach us a strategy by which we can bear the Cross and suffering. So when we try to run away from suffering, from the cross, and we do not want to accept it, every cross we do not accept becomes twice as heavy. By inviting us to accept suffering Our Lady shows us a path, a way for healing… You see, when we accept suffering with love, as Jesus did, this is the final condition for being healed.
“I want to tell you something else in regard to perceiving two sources of suffering. One kind of suffering comes because we love and the other because we do not want to love, that is because we sin, because we hate. When one loves, this love is always connected to suffering and the cross because love always guides us toward others and we always meet with so much suffering in others.
“If we love them we are bound to suffer, but this suffering makes us grow, helps us and others too. For example, when a mother loves her child who is ill and suffers and the mother being with her child becomes a more mature mother and her love is purified. It is always like this. This suffering always accompanies love and at this juncture we can perhaps better understand the cause of Jesus’ and Our Lady’s suffering...
“But there is another kind of love. If someone hates and does not want to forgive, what is this? Rancour? He can never be content or happy because hate destroys; he cannot bring life to us. This hate is dangerous because it personally destroys those who bear hate and do not want to be reconciled and these people then destroy others.
“Think of an alcoholic, one who drinks excessively, what is his suffering? How does his family suffer? It becomes a problem and the cause for much suffering. And if someone takes drugs, how much suffering there is! Do you see the point?
“If only we Christians understood this suffering that comes from sin we would understand that we must leave sin in order to have love. I am telling you that when we posses love, suffering does not interest us any more; only one thing interests us and that is to love in every circumstance and every moment…
“And so Our Lady invites us to come near the Cross, pray before it and consecrate ourselves to it. And she is not afraid because she knows what significance the Cross and suffering had in her life and that of her Son. Our Lady has understood what her duty was; we are born under the Cross when Jesus said Mother, this is your Son, and then to the disciple, Here is your Mother.
“We can say well that in that instant the Church and our community were born. As every mother, Blessed Mary wants to educate us and as the Queen of the prophets she could not hide the cross from us, she could not fail to speak about the suffering and had to invite us to conversion, because all prophets had to do the same. Only the false prophets have promised peace and have not spoken of suffering or the need for conversion. Our Lady, as Queen of the prophets, invites us to pray in order to accept our crosses and with our cross and our suffering to be able to build a new world.”