I say I am a beloved daughter of the most high God.
Pondering what that statement means, I turn and look at the holy face of Jesus. This beautiful olive wood carving of his holy face was given to me as a gift many years ago. I find it unique to look at and hold – the wood is glossy and smooth and the degree of detail holds my attention. So tenderly do I touch the crown of thorns, his closed eyes, the drooping hair and beard. I run my fingers over his closed eyes and furrowed brow. Was he sitting waiting to be condemned? Was this his face from the cross or had he already died and was being laid in his mother’s arms?
I hold this wood during my prayer time or place it next to the burning candle. My lips want to kiss away the pain, my fingers want to remove the thorns. I want to ease the heaviness I see. He is all human here for me to look at. He is vulnerability, humility, surrender. He has given all.
Jesus has shown me in his passion what being a daughter of the most high God would look like – yes eventual suffering and death. There is no escaping it – Adam and Eve opened the door we must all walk through. So a cross I must carry, a crown of thorns on my head. I too must, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage, be handed over, rejected and killed. Not as he was, but in dying to my own self. I am finding this truth very hard. I don’t want to be limited in what I can do. I want a cure for my illness not decreased capacities; I want good health, to live a long life and be able to do what I used to do without even thinking about it. But for whatever reason, everything has changed.
Yet I know even with a cure – with a complete healing – even like Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead, I too will one day will breathe my last breath. So this hard stuff – this acceptance of having less than before – something we all will face – is it refusing the cross? Am I Peter and saying no, not you Lord. And not me either? Am I asking God to heal me without walking and taking up this new cross? Can I be a true daughter, made in his image and likeness and not take on his ways? But if I refuse, whose daughter would I be?
I don’t believe it’s one way or other – nothing much is strictly black or white. Yes, I must pick up my cross – or pack of them it seems some days. But as I do, I know I am not alone in lifting them up. Jesus Christ, Son of the most high God promised he would be with me. Whether my final days come quickly or over the next twenty years, my crosses are part of the plan that I must walk. We all must. Familiar scripture helps me keep my head in the right place… knowing he will hold me up, he will not forsake or abandon me.
Isiah 41:10 I am with you always.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Luke 12:7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Luke 22:32 but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail.
1 Chronicles 5:30 He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 Let us put on faith and love for a breastplate,
and the hope of salvation for a helmet.
Mark 11:24 All that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.
These are the ways I can identify as the way, the truth and the life of what Jesus taught as the Son of Man. It is the center of my faith to believe what he gave to us; otherwise nothing makes any sense. So the real question, back to the beginning, is, if I say I am a daughter of the most high God, do I reflect this in the world, my community, family, parish and in friendships? Will a stranger recognize me as his daughter?
Who do you say I am?