Taking up our cross is essential to our path to holiness. We cannot be holy without the cross. Our Lord said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Sometimes, embracing the cross is something theoretical rather than an everyday reality for us.

Sometimes, we can be too idealistic and wait for big crosses that seldom happen or only exist in our imagination. We can cause ourselves unnecessary stress when we create our own crosses instead of carrying the ones God has blessed us with.

Our cross is a daily matter, not just during Lent or when we feel like being penitential. It is precisely in the unexpected times where the cross has the most merit and graces for us. Fruitful crosses are the ones we don’t expect are often experienced in ordinary life. Let’s not put them to waste.

“I will tell you which are man’s treasures on earth so that you will appreciate them: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, pain, dishonour, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, slander, prison…”

– St. Josemaria

Being misunderstood

Being misunderstood and having words put in our mouth can feel demoralising. Our well-meaning words and actions can be misinterpreted sometimes.

Reflect on the public life of Jesus Christ, who was praised for His good works by thousands of followers only to be rejected by many, including His apostles. Everything our Lord did was good and just but that didn’t stop Him from being misunderstood, slandered and persecuted.

Our Lord may have experienced hurt but He was able to rise above betrayal with faith that He was doing God the Father’s will. Jesus reacted to being misunderstood with graciousness and mercy. These virtues were especially manifested on the cross when he said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

When we are misunderstood, it is an opportunity to put our ego in the backseat and imitate the humility of our Lord. It allows us to strengthen our faith in Jesus because what He thinks of us is what really matters.

‘Interruptions’ in family life, school, and the workplace

Just like being misunderstood, experiencing interruptions is an inevitable part of life. Our knee-jerk reactions to interruptions can often be irritation or frustration. We can see them as disruptions that take us away from our to-do lists, busy lives and meticulously crafted schedules.

If we take some time to step back and reflect, our negative responses to interruptions can potentially be a mark of selfishness, a rigid mindset and an unhealthy attachment to our own plans.

Interruptions give us so many opportunities to step out of ourselves to serve others at home, our place of study and in our workplace. They help us remember that we are called to put people first before tasks and our own things.

Interruptions are opportunities for service. Jesus said it Himself, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have boundaries and that we should say yes to everything. However, we can discern whether we’re willing to hop out of our comfort zone to serve our neighbour or if we are only concerned about our own affairs.

Interruptions give us so many opportunities to step out of ourselves to serve others at home, our place of study and in our workplace.

Technology and our curiosity

When was the last time you checked your screen time activity summary? Does it reflect good use of time? Does it reflect the exercise of temperance in your social media usage and curiosity?

For most people, technology is a battle of temperance. Our phones are constantly fighting for our attention through messages, news alerts, emails etc. We want to be ‘in the know’ immediately. Sometimes we think every message is ‘urgent’. Our devices spark our curiosity, which can sometimes lead us to spiral down a rabbit hole.

How can we get rid of this vicious cycle, especially when we’re called to be present at home with our family and to work diligently in our workplace to live justice to our employer and colleagues?

Being present in family life is an act of charity. Sometimes we don’t realise that we betray the virtue of justice to our employer when we constantly check our phones and reply to personal messages and emails. These small checks often accumulate to minutes that don’t belong to us.

It’s important to create an environment where we can be present with people and our work, which starts with getting rid of distractions we can control, one example being our mobile devices. Within your family home, have designated screen-free spaces. At work, leave it in a locker during work hours or somewhere out of reach.

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