But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14)
I’m afraid I haven’t always gloried in sharing in the cross of the Lord. More times than I care to remember, I have complained about, bargained over or just plain resented the crosses I have been asked to bear. There have been times when it has been a daily struggle merely accept each cross, let alone glory in it.
But God has been infinitely patient with me. He has not left me orphaned. Instead of abandoning me to my failures, He is showing me, one cross at a time, that what I cling to in this world has no power to save me.
Verse 16 says: “Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule”, that is, “to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is good news for us in the BSP*, for the rule of the BSP is the way of the cross. In His goodness, the Lord does not make us wait for the blessings of peace and mercy. Because we are walking by the rule now, even while in formation, we may be confident of His blessing. Through the rule, and through the blessings of His peace and mercy, He is creating us anew.
This Scripture verse gives me the sure hope that as I walk by the rule of the BSP I will learn to embrace each daily cross with gratitude. In this way the world will be crucified to me and I to the world. In this way I will enter into the glory of the cross. Sounds simple–or is it? The story of Naaman can help us to understand.
When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.” Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left. But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:8-14 )
Something simple can always be tried…
I can relate to Naaman. I think we all can at some level. We want or expect things to be more complicated than God intends. But, although God can and does work in wondrous and miraculous ways, for the most part, he tends to work through the simple and the ordinary, something many of the saints figured out, notably St. Francis and St. Therese of Lisieux.
The penitential way of life is simple. Some might add, simple but not easy, and at first glance that would appear to be the case. However, if God has called us to this way of life, even something that appears to be so difficult, we know that he will give us what we need to accomplish it.
May God lead us ever deeper into his Divine Will, and may we glory in it.
(*BSP – Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis: www.bspenance.org)