18 March 2008

Bearing the Cross of Christ

A brief devotional reading from Martin Luther on this Tuesday of Holy Week:
The cross teaches us to believe in hope even when there is not hope. The wisdom of the cross is deeply hidden in a profound mystery. In fact, there is no other way to heaven than taking up the cross of Christ. On account of this we must beware that the active life with its good works, and the contemplative life with its speculations, do not lead us astray. Both are most attractive and yield peace of mind, but for that very reason they hide real dangers, unless they are tempered by the cross and disturbed by adversaries. The cross is the surest path of all. Blessed is the man who understands this truth.

It is a matter of necessity that we be destroyed and rendered formless, so that Christ may be formed within us, and Christ alone be in us.... Real mortifications do not happen in lonely places away from the society of other human beings. No! They happen in the home, the market place, in secular life.... "Being conformed to Christ" is not within our powers to achieve. It is God's gift, not our own work.

He who is not crucianus, if I may coin a word, is not Christianus: in other words, he who does not bear his cross is no Christian, for he is not like his Master, Jesus Christ. (A reflection on the cross; cited in For All the Saints: A Prayer Book For and By the Church, vol. III, p. 1011.)

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