In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, using a metaphor of journey and travel, Jesus explains to his disciples what our obstacles in following His way can be.
Jesus says: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me."
It has been tragically commonplace just recently to see opportunities to reflect on this image of those carrying an unimaginably heavy burden. From overseas news reports, we hear and see video footage of people whose homes, clean water supplies and even hospitals have been bombed into oblivion. In “breaking news” we follow the trauma of holiday-makers targeted by vengeful, maladjusted murderers while back in our own life, many dear people around us battle with the burden of serious illness, infirmity or the crippling sadness of bereavement. Through the hundreds of “friends” with whom we can maintain almost constant contact via social media, the suffering of those we may not even have met is brought straight into our hearts and minds.
Many young people in our area begin a new challenge this week as they begin the next stage of their own journey in life: moving on to begin their formal education or a change to secondary school. Many will carry crosses too heavy for their years already, and change can intensify anxiety and fear. The Good Shepherd’s parish priest, Fr Chris Gorton, is being called to begin a new phase of his spiritual and professional journey, as, ironically, on his return from completing the long-distance Camino Del Norte he will move to a new parish.
We acknowledge and often embrace changes which are part of our journey through life, but it is important also to remember the influence we can have on others in our ability to help to ease their load, through listening, helping and being non-judgemental.
We can never know how it feels to carry the burden of another, but we could try and share the weight, and in this way we will show our willingness to “be a follower of mine.”