“And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’” (Mk 8: 34-38)

Which part of Christ’s “words” would one be “ashamed” of? It’s the part about the Cross, which is the Way of walking through our hardships, shortcomings, and darkness, rather than escaping them or denying that they exist. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1: 18) Particularly in our Self-Help and Internet Age, when we may be pressured to think that anything “wrong” with us is just a “bug” that “we” can “fix,” the Word of the Cross speaks also of another Way, in the Spirit of patience, wisdom, and compassion, both for ourselves and others, with regard to the “weeds” or “tares” (i.e., the bad things in or amongst us) that God lets “grow together” with the good “wheat” in us, for our own good on the Way of the Cross. (See the Parable of the Tares in Mt 13: 24-30.)

Today let me re-embrace “the power of God” in God’s Spirit, in some heartfelt prayer, and let me not be bullied by the pressures to be “picture-perfect” according to our social-media culture. I need not, as I cannot, hide my “nakedness” from One Who also hangs on a Cross, side-by-side with me. So as I ask Him to remember me in His kingdom, I also cry out to Him in the words of St. Ephrem, “Grant me, Your servant, the Spirit of whole-mindedness, humility, patience, and love!” Amen!

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