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May 14, 2021 1794 Brother Josin Thomas O.P, India
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The Secret of the Cross

I asked the Lord, “Why, why this cross in our lives?” And He gave me an incredible answer!

Like Simon of Cyrene, it is the vocation of every Christian to carry the Cross of Christ. This is why Saint John Marie Vianney said, “Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of the Cross.” There is a great deal to unpack in that seemingly simple but profound teaching.

The sufferings we experience allow us to partake in the suffering of Christ. Without the willingness to embrace suffering for the sake of Christ, we cannot fulfill our Christian mission on earth. Christianity is the only religion that recognizes the salvific aspects of suffering and teaches that suffering can help us attain eternal salvation—if we join it to Christ’s own suffering.

Venerable Fulton Sheen said that unless there is a cross in our lives, there never will be a resurrection.  Jesus himself tells us what is required to be His disciple, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Again, Jesus says in Matthew 10:38, “He who does not take his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me.”

Jesus died on the Cross to save the world. After His death, He ascended into Heaven but left the Cross in the world. He knew that anyone who wants to join Him in Heaven will go there by way of the Cross. Saint John Vianney also reminds us that “The Cross is the ladder to Heaven.”  Our willingness to embrace the Cross allows us to climb that heavenly ladder.  There are plenty of ways to destruction, but there is only one way to Heaven—the way of the Cross.

Depths of My Heart

In 2016, while I was studying for my Masters, my mother began to show signs of weakness. The doctors suggested a biopsy. During Holy Week, we received the report that my mother had cancer. My family was devastated by the news. That evening, I sat in my room and stared at a statue of Jesus carrying His Cross. Slowly, tears flowed from my eyes as I complained to Jesus: for the last two years I almost never missed Holy Mass, I prayed rosaries every day and I gave a lot of time working for the kingdom of God (I was quite active in Jesus Youth at the time). My pious mother was very devoted to Mother Mary. So I asked Jesus from the depths of my heart, “Why, why this cross in our lives?”

That Holy Week, I went through a great agony. As I sat in my room gazing at the statue, a thought entered my mind. Jesus is alone carrying His cross. After a while, I heard a voice in my heart saying, “Josin can you help Me carry My Cross?” I realized what Jesus was calling me to do and my vocation became clear. I was to help carry the Cross of Jesus, like Simon of Cyrene.

Around that time, I made a visit to one of my mentors in Jesus Youth and shared with him the pain I was undergoing since my mother’s cancer diagnosis. After hearing my troubles, he gave me but one piece of advice: “Josin, in praying for your present situation, you will find one of two answers: either God will heal your mother completely, or else He has no plan to heal this illness but is giving this illness as a cross to bear. But if that is the case, He will also give you and your family the grace and strength to bear it.”

I soon came to understand that God was answering my prayers in the second way. But he gave me the grace and strength to carry His cross; and not only for me, but to my whole family. As time passed, I began to realize that this cross of cancer was purifying our family. It increased our faith. It transformed my father into a man of prayer. It helped and guided me to choose the religious life. It helped my sister to grow closer to Jesus. This cross eventually helped my mother to go peacefully to the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Letter of James (1:12) says “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.”

By June of 2018, my mother’s illness had taken a turn for the worse. She was under tremendous pain, but surprisingly, she remained joyful. She said to my father one day, “Enough of all this treatment. After all, I am going to heaven.” A few days later, she woke from a dream and said to my father “I saw a dream”. But before she could elaborate, Celine Thomas departed from the world, completing her earthly pilgrimage.

Over the course of two years, through 30 chemotherapies and two major surgeries, she carried her cross faithfully without relief from her pain. I am now certain that she is looking upon the glory of Christ, face to face.

The Secret

Can we imagine our Lord telling us, “I have many friends at My table, but very few at My Cross?” During Jesus’ crucifixion Mary Magdalene stood courageously before the Cross. She sought to be with Christ in His suffering.  And because of this, three days later, it was she who first saw the glory of the Risen Lord. This encounter transformed her sorrow into joy and made her the Apostle to the Apostles. The great Carmelite mystic Saint John of the Cross says, “Whoever does not seek the Cross of Christ does not seek the glory of Christ.” The glory of Christ is hidden in His Passion. This is the wonderful secret of the Cross! Saint Peter reminds us, “Rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Like Saint Mary Magdalene, if we stand at the foot of the Cross with a willingness to suffer with Him, we too will encounter the risen Lord, and He will turn our messes into messages, our tests into testimonies, and our trials into triumphs.

Lord Jesus, I give myself wholly to you through the hands of Mother Mary. Give me the strength to carry my cross after You, all the days of my life. Amen.

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Brother Josin Thomas O.P

Brother Josin Thomas O.P has been an active member of the Jesus Youth movement and passionately involved in various activities of Shalom Media. Currently he is a Novice with the Dominicans in Goa, India.

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