How shall we carry our cross?


The settling in of peace in a golden sunset? Or the dawn of hope for unimagined new life? Photo by Dan Villani,


Approx. read time: 2:35 min.

Today is Good Friday, the solemn celebration of the Lord’s arrest, mock trial, scourging, crucifixion, and finally, his burial.

That “finally” piece feels so … final. Death—the ultimate silencing of the prophet, the troublemaker, divine Lover, the Lord.

I think, today, of how Jesus was forced, like other criminals of his time under Roman rule, to carry the equipment for his execution.

Lest he die on the way, preempting his public crucifixion as a satisfaction to power and a warning to other troublemakers, Simon, a Passover pilgrim from Cyrene, a Roman outpost on Africa’s northern coast, is pressed into service to help Jesus bear the load.

The condemned one bearing the cross gives witness to the state’s notion of justice.

The innocent One bearing the cross gives witness to radical humility, unstoppable divine love, an unimaginably nonviolent heart. 

Two bearing the cross express a dangerous solidarity, a courageous companionship on the journey to death.

So I am thinking about the two women—one from Ukraine, one from Russia—whom Pope Francis has invited to carry the cross together today.

His plan met with swift blowback from Ukraine’s Catholic leadership.

The protest? These two nations are at war! (a political observation). 

I understand the resistance, the shock of the cross-sharing optics. The Gospel doesn’t fit nicely with the current situation.

But Good Friday affirms that we all are broken, all in need of forgiveness (a Gospel reality).

Who bears the brunt of war, in their lives, in their bodies? Women, no matter which side they’re on.

Still, Good Friday is not the moment for the optics of reconciliation, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, notes: “And, of course, we know that reconciliation occurs when the aggressor admits their guilt and apologizes.”

Yet God’s radical humility, unstoppable divine love, and unimaginably nonviolent heart pour forth invitations to admit and repent of our guilt, invitations that incite the reconciliation that purifies the hearts of both aggressor and aggrieved.

We are never the initiators of our conversion stories. God—divine Mercy—is always the initiator. We respond. This is how conversion of heart works. This dynamic of invitation and response is our pathway to transformation in the crucified Lord and risen Christ.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Be well. Love one another. Live, work, and pray for peace.

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