I am a proud native of West Virginia. Born, raised and lived in this great state my entire life. The majority of my family has also lived there for as long as I can remember, and most continue to live there as of today. I love the solitude of the mountains, the peace and calmness the forests and streams provide and the sense of community that most in this great state embrace. My wife Catherine and I decided many years ago that this was the place God had called us to live, raise our children, work and be His disciples. We committed to this calling and decided to be the best examples of Christ that we could be. Christ has a plan for each of you, just like He does for us. What that specific plan is may sometimes be difficult to see, understand and follow but, if you seek and believe, He will reveal and share it with you!
In the Gospel reading for this week, Christ asks: “Who do you say I am?” The answers to this question vary from disciple to disciple until Simon Peter steps forward. “You are the Christ.” Jesus confirms this and explains that He will suffer greatly, die and yet, rise again. For all of us! As the reading progresses, just like our lives, Jesus asks Simon Peter, the other disciples and you and me to pick up our cross and follow Him! The cross that He asks each of us to carry varies in size, weight and form. For some of us, the cross we are given may seem to be too much to handle alone and impossible to carry without help. The type of cross He asks each of us to shoulder for Him is exactly the right size, weight and form that He feels we are capable of. The beauty of this journey of carrying the cross however is – we are never actually carrying that cross alone. He is always walking beside us, holding us, encouraging us, supporting us and loving us! He simply asks us to love Him, trust Him and ask Him for His support. When we do, He grabs that cross, all the burdens, troubles and fears and carries it for us!
I mentioned in the beginning that I was born, raised and have lived my entire life in West Virginia. My family continues to live there as well. Recently, my job has required Catherine and me to pick up and move from our home to Florida. This move requires that we sell our home, leave our children, grandchild, family and friends behind and start a new journey in a new state. This has caused both of us many sleepless nights of wondering how our children, grandchild, family and friends will fair without us. Will they be ok? Will they be taken care of as well as we could take care of them? How will our church family handle this transition? How will we fit in at a new parish in a new town? What in the world will we do? As I mentioned, God gives each of us crosses to carry. He places challenges before us to test our mettle and to see if we truly trust and accept His will. We have been issued a cross to move away from our comfort zone, away from our family and friends to disciple and bloom in a new location where He needs us. Just as He needs each of you to understand and accept, He has asked Catherine and me to as well. He has asked us to practice what we teach to the youth and our family. He has asked us not to question but to accept that this cross is issued for a reason. He is asking us to bloom in a new location and be His disciples. What the future holds for us is unknown but, as my mother would say, “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” Christ says the same thing through scripture. Believe, follow and trust in Me. If we do each of these things, He will carry our crosses!