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Crosses, limitations, weaknesses, and Triumphs

Is it better for me to spend more time hearing confessions, in personal prayer, visiting the sick, and less time training for and running marathons? The answer is absolutely “yes.” No doubt. Yet, here is the reality of my life. God gave me a wonderful cross called insomnia. Lovesick crickets in the night keep me up.  I could take drugs. They say smoking weed will help me sleep better. I don’t think so. So I tried working out every day– a much better option, and it worked. When I put out a really hard workout, there can be a bongo drum convention outside my bedroom window at night and I will never know it. There are so many other benefits. Working out teaches me dedication, commitment, and stamina. I have more energy and feel I am always at my A-game.

One day one of my confreres came up to me and said, “Peter, today is your father’s birthday; he will be eighty today.” I asked, “How did you know that?” He replied, “You told me five years ago.” At the time I had that conversation, I was preparing for comprehensive exams. Trust me when I say that the most fearsome task I ever did was prepare for comprehensives. I spent the year reading a stack of books that could fill a small library. Do you know how useful a photographic memory would have been for me? So I asked my confrere, “Can I borrow your brain for a few days.” He felt privileged that I had asked him. I said, “Don’t get me wrong–I don’t want your brain, I just need it for one task.” Anyway, I passed the exam. I didn’t need a photographic memory. My limitations forced me to pull out my work ethic and put it into practice. Once again my weakness brought out the best in me.

Peter makes a good point in the Gospel. Is Christ better alive than dead? Can Christ help more people, cure the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry while He is alive? The answer is “yes.” Then why go to Jerusalem? Here is why. Christ has a cross to bear–opponents. There are people who have rejected God and have turned away from Him. When Jesus hands himself over to these rejecters and haters, they will be forced to take a real close look at God, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Yet, now they get a close-up look at God. They will see God’s patience, kindness, compassion, generosity, and His power to heal and save. Even bad guys get sick. Jesus hands himself over to the enemies of God because He can win them over.

Here is the faith lesson. Picking up your cross does not mean going out there and being miserable on a daily basis. The cross can reach deep inside of you and find all the good you have that is dormant and draw it out of you. It means that you will take your limitations, your fears, and your suffering and use them to your advantage. The cross is not a problem that needs to be avoided at all times. It is opportunity to change the world around you.

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