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There Is Grace In Your Cross

First Reading: Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7

See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news,
announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O Judah,
fulfill your vows!
For nevermore shall you be invaded
by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed.
The LORD will restore the vine of Jacob,
the pride of Israel,
Though ravagers have ravaged them
and ruined the tendrils.

Woe to the bloody city, all lies,
full of plunder, whose looting never stops!
The crack of the whip, the rumbling sounds of wheels;
horses a-gallop, chariots bounding,
Cavalry charging, the flame of the sword, the flash of the spear,
the many slain, the heaping corpses,
the endless bodies to stumble upon!
I will cast filth upon you,
disgrace you and put you to shame;
Till everyone who sees you runs from you, saying,
“Nineveh is destroyed; who can pity her?
Where can one find any to console her?”

Responsorial Psalm: Deutoronmy 32:35CD-36AB, 39ABCD, 41

R. (39c) It is I who deal death and give life.
Close at hand is the day of their disaster,
and their doom is rushing upon them!
Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people;
on his servants he shall have pity.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
“Learn then that I, I alone, am God,
and there is no god besides me.
It is I who bring both death and life,
I who inflict wounds and heal them.”
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
I will sharpen my flashing sword,
and my hand shall lay hold of my quiver,
“With vengeance I will repay my foes
and requite those who hate me.”
R. It is I who deal death and give life.

Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

NAB

aug 5

When my husband and I got married in 2009 we had it all planned out. We were going to get married, buy a house, wait a year to have kids, take a trip to Europe for our first anniversary, then come home and have babies. Well, we bought the house, we made it through our first year of marriage, we went to Europe and back, but no baby came. Month after month we prayed, tried, waited, and were disappointed. I met with doctors, altered my diet, took handfuls of vitamins and supplements, had countless vials filled with my blood for testing, and still no baby.

For two years we tried to get pregnant, losing one baby to miscarriage during that time. I was beginning to feel far from God, like He had abandoned me and my prayers were falling on deaf ears. I feared the judgment of others at our lack of children—maybe they thought we didn’t want them instead of just the opposite. I felt humiliated that our plans had not worked out. I wondered why God was allowing me to suffer this way.

Why am I always so surprised and indignant when troubles come my way? We are guaranteed no perks or luxuries in this Christian life. If there’s one thing we are guaranteed, Scripture shows us time and time again that it’s going to be suffering. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24.) Infertility was the cross I was being asked to take up, and I could either let it drive a wedge between me and my Lord, or let it drive me to His side.

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me . . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt. 11:28-30.) The moment we turn to Jesus with our cross it ceases to be a burden and becomes a conduit of grace. Fear turns into trust, suffering turns into virtue, loneliness turns into fellowship with Him.

Those two years of dealing with infertility were some of the hardest I have ever known. But they were also years of incredible spiritual growth. I learned humility and not to judge other people’s family sizes. I learned to surrender my will to Him and trust in His plan for my life.

My husband and I now have two children, and my cross has taken on the form of nursing a baby through the night and supporting my husband while he is in graduate school. And when it begins to feel like more than I can carry, I remember to draw close to the Lord.

God used a cross to bring about salvation. So too our crosses, if we permit it, can become channels of Christ’s saving grace for us. Ask God to show you how He is using your particular cross to give you grace.

photo credit

Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, musician, knitter, gardener, and convert to the Catholic faith.  Read more about her here.

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