Friday in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
In a movie full of great lines, one of the greatest in The Princess Bride is when Westley says to the Princess “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Jesus is certainly not trying to sell us anything in today’s Gospel. The Cross is an inevitable part of the Christian life. We must take it up to follow Jesus, go beyond our own desires when we make choices, be willing to endure the shame of acknowledging Jesus publicly, and be willing to die. All this is bound up in a life of discipleship. Then again, all of this is bound up in life in general.
Westley is right that pain is a part of life. If we run away from pain, from sacrifice, from shame, from death, we only run away from life. No matter what we do, there will be struggle, there will be choices, and in the end, there will be death. Jesus does not ignore this, or try and wave it away with a magic wand. Our earthly lives, with all the difficulties they entail, are embraced and acknowledged. In terms of pain, the life of the disciple might be exactly the same as the life of anyone else. So what has Jesus changed in saying that we must take up our crosses and follow Him? That in our pain, we can follow Him.