There is a famous episode of a
circus clown, who noticed a fire and went to call for help.
The conclusion is well known to most of the audience. There is
yet another very interesting episode related to the feast of
the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This episode is related not
to the finding of the Cross of Jesus by St. Helena, but to the
return of the Cross from the Persian Empire. The emperor
Heraclius wanted to carry the cross on his back as Jesus had
done as per the Gospels, but could not even move a step
because of the weight and as if someone was holding him down.
The Patriarch, then told the Emperor, that Jesus carried the
Cross on his bare and wounded body. The emperor took off all
his royal attire and then he was able to carry – Exalt the
Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
When you talk of discipleship as a journey towards a total
transformation of yourself, you need to keep this episode in
the forefront. Transformation first of all is not for my
self-esteem. Dying to self and living for Christ or letting
him live in you is not a matter of pride, it is very painful.
St. Paul himself and other disciples as mentioned in the Acts
of the Apostles rejoiced, not when people were converted and
baptized, but they rejoiced when they were beaten up at the
order of the Sanhedrin or by the ordinary people.
Discipleship as a path to transformation is not a journey to
mount Tabor for a glorious transfiguration, but a journey down
the mountain of glory and up the mountain of Calvary. The
disciples were transformed in their missionary calling along
this path to Calvary – carrying the cross on their bare and
Supernatural grace is met or received when you are on this
path of shame, defeat, personal struggles and sinfulness.
Along the mission path in Russia, the graceful moments have
been those moments, when you felt tired and exhausted, when
you felt you are not needed here – that is exactly when Christ
could really enter, when you started fading away, He could
shine his Light. That was the moment, when not I, but he
acted, he forgave, he healed, he smiled.
Such a life, such a call is precious indeed. But to be able to
proclaim God’s Word – i.e. Jesus, we need to fearlessly and
even without shame embrace the failures, falls, rejections,
and limits of our life and in our life. Only then will God be
able to make us his mouthpiece, then we can like John the
Baptist show to the people where Christ is, or indeed, Christ
will show himself in us, in a wounded, defeated us.