Following the Way of the CrossWritten by allsaints on Mar 26, 2015 in - No Comments
Banner Article 3/6/15 – Submitted by The Rev. Anita M. Slovak, Pastor, All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Following the Way of the Cross
Wow, March really came in like a lion. When March comes around, I cannot help but to think of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th. I guess it is “the touch of Irish” I have in me, since Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day conjures up images of shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold, or maybe even some green-tinted beer – of which I cannot personally understand the fascination. But, if you visited Ireland and talked to the people about St. Patrick’s Day, you would discover that it is not a civil holiday but rather a religious one. Moreover, it is something really exciting that they are celebrating. They are celebrating the introduction of Christianity to their land.
Saint Patrick was an interesting man. He wrote an autobiography toward the end of his life, telling of his life’s journey. He grew up in Britain and had a grandfather who was a priest and a father that was a deacon, who encouraged him toward God. But, in his youth, Patrick was much more interested in having fun with his friends and in drinking. Then tragedy struck Patrick at sixteen as his village was attacked by Irish marauders. He was carried off to Ireland as a slave. It was during his time in Ireland, working as a shepherd for his master when Patrick remembered the faith of his grandfather and father and he became serious about Jesus.
Patrick escaped from Ireland around the age of twenty-one and made his way back home to England, running away from the land of his slavery. Patrick became a priest and then felt God’s call back to Ireland to share the gospel with those who had been responsible for his slavery. He journeyed back to Ireland and began to spread the gospel in a way that reached many and changed the island completely. Patrick’s journey was not easy and he met much resistance. Patrick denied himself, took up his cross and followed Jesus, back to the land of his own captivity.
Jesus tells us, “If you want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)| Following Jesus means living the life that Jesus lived. It means making sacrifices in our lives to follow Jesus. It means sometimes, taking up our own cross. Jesus gives us a great example to follow. But there are many examples of real people who followed Jesus’ way of the cross. I think about the hard decision made by Saint Patrick to return to Ireland where he had escaped as a slave. His life was forfeit to the people of Ireland. He faced the fear of his enslavement because he felt that God was calling him to Ireland to teach the people of Ireland about Jesus. Patrick had to make a choice. Was he going to follow the path that God had set for him or was he going to let his fears rule over him and remain at home in comfort. Saint Patrick followed God’s path – “the way of the cross” and great things happened.
What tempts us to stray from God’s path? What keeps us from following God with our whole heart? Is it fear of the unknown? Is it being uncomfortable with change? Is it the draw of comfort? Is it our own need for power?
Jesus gives us an example of what it means to resist temptation and remain faithful to God’s path for our lives. God calls for us to live and follow that example. Saint Patrick and so many others have followed the way of the cross and we can too.