The weight of the Cross will increase as love decreases in our life.
Once while talking to youth, I asked them a question, if somebody gives you 1000 Dollar or 1000 Euros and ask you to follow them by leaving Catholic faith, will you go? Few replied that they would consider. What about good position in the society? And a few would go because they are poor.
If a young man, handsome, powerful, wealthy or a young woman, beautiful, job holder proposes you with only one condition to leave your catholic faith, will you? Few will go, because they do think good family is made in the unity of heart, and to live with a partner as one wish and loves gives meaning to life than at times after waiting for long within the religious tradition, marrying a person who is a drunkard, not faithful, useless, etcâ€¦
Yes, Jesus is asking the question to each of his follower very personally, â€œDo you love Jesus more than these?â€ â€œSimon, son of John, do you love me more than these?â€ (Jn. 21: 15).
Jesus asks this question to Peter three times. He confirms Peterâ€™s love for Him, only then Peter is entrusted with the particular mission. Following Jesus demands love. The greatest act is love which the world ever has seen, and that was on the cross.The followers of Jesus are too demanded of love, even though it is painful. The disciple has to imitate the master, and that is possible by becoming one with Him.
Only the one who follows Jesus closely will be able to love. For that one has to know the heart of the master; in fact Jesusâ€™ heart is full of love. Peter was following Jesus closely and often he was the spokesperson for the group, he declared Jesus identity loudly, and the Church was entrusted to him. The depth of Peterâ€™s love is tested by the Master. He wants to know whether Peter loves him more than others.
Only the mother will be able to tell how much love she shows towards her child, and she expresses it. If the mother really loves the child, she will give completely herself to her child, forgetting herself fully. She takes care of the child and at times she is even ready to die for the child.
The followers of Jesus too should have that same love. They have to forget about themselves completely for of love for their master Jesus, and be concerned only about following him. Everyday they have to think only one thing as disciples; how can they follow their Master closer than others? And this demands greater love for Jesus than others.
Jesus is asking Peter to â€œfollowâ€ Him (Jn.21:19). Although Jesus was asking the same question to Peter three times, the intensity in which the question was asked was deep. And Peterâ€™s answer reflects that it comes from the heart level than from lips alone. The real love comes from the heart, and it goes beyond borders. It has nothing to do with the world or its desires. The husband who takes care of his paralyzed wife affectionately is the example of real love of the husband. He understands the bond of love, which he pledged to keep up till the last breath, during holy matrimony. It demands great love.
There are wives who are being beaten up by their own husbands who are addicted to alcoholic. Still they love their husbands, with whole heart. True love can be painful but graceful. Even though there are times the crosses appears to be heavy in family lives, once carried it faithfully, they could see crucified Jesus on them. Love demands sacrifice in daily lives.
One would be allowed to carry physical, mental, social, spiritual crosses, but the depth of love towards those crosses gives new dimensions in oneâ€™s life struggle. In family lives, the husband and wife share the true love each other more than any thing in this world. And the husband can declare to his partner, who might be bed-ridden for years, that he loves her than anybody. The wife too, whose husband has become an alcoholic addict, still loves him with faithfulness.
Christâ€™s followers are given crosses as a sign of love for the glorification.When one turns towards Jesus, He will ask them by calling out their names, â€˜do you love me more than others this moment?â€™ And only the faithful disciple completely surrendering themselves could answer, â€˜Yes Lord, I amâ€™.
Greater love towards the master makes the cross lighter. Or when the weight increases the love can decrease and decrease. Today, many wish to call themselves Christians provided their crosses are made of gold, silver etc. Sometimes, even so-called â€˜chosen onesâ€™ prefer not to see crosses and thus they try to be blind when those situations come and go behind positions, or golden crosses, or worldly way in a cunning manner. Embracing cross as a sign of real love, and loving cross and the crucified Christ is the way one has chosen as his vocation is often being forgotten by many. Seldom people like to take the heavy wooden crosses, on account of love.
Jesus is crucified on this wooden cross, which was not so polished but rough, and heavy. There are times, the life situations become crosses in the life, and only the disciple of Christ will be able to discover Christ in those situations and lovingly embrace those moments, and others will curse them and look for small, fashioned, beautiful golden or silver crosses to hang as a decoration to the flesh. The disciple of Christ has to confirm his or her love towards the master in daily life; only then one can follow Him as a faithful disciple, with the given responsibility.
After confirming the faith, Jesus is giving the mission to peter. â€œFeed my sheepâ€. Peter is entrusted with the care of the Church. Like Peter, every disciple who are confirmed in their love towards the Master, is given responsibility. This demands great sacrifice. Jesus says to Peter, â€œAmen, Amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to goâ€ (Jn.21:18).
– – – written by Fr. Biju Maramkuzhackal SVD