When the Good News Seems Grim

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

This is a frightening prospect. To be entirely dispossessed of everything that is not Christ, leaning more and more on him, entering every more deeply into the suffering of others: the sick, the migrant, the outcast, the prisoner, and all those in whom Christ hides and longs to be seen. And like Christ, we may even be broken open and poured out, enduring great suffering and rejection.

This can be confusing. How can a ministry filled with Good News for the poor and healing for those who suffer physical, mental, or spiritual illness end so brutally? How can the Good News seem so grim?

But it all leads us to greater intimacy with God in Christ. As the path of dispossession becomes the path of greater union, the body broken by suffering becomes the bread of the new covenant, and the blood so bitterly shed becomes the wine of intoxicating intimacy. We begin to taste and see what saints and mystics have promised: a hidden wholeness, a font of living water, an intimate indwelling in the very life of God.

One day we may gaze with gratitude at the cross through which Christ pulled us out of ourselves and into the infinite abundance of the divine life. Until then, we pick it up, daily, and we follow.

[CREDIT] Michael J. Sanem, “The Path of Dispossession,” from the February 2021 issue of Give Us This Day, http://www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2021). Used with permission.

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