Carrying Cross and Candle

That to profane eyes was contemptible, which the hearts of saints would afterwards glory in: Christ displaying his own cross on his shoulders, and bearing that which was not to be put under a bushel, the candlestick of that candle which was now about to burn.

st augustine

Christ bids us light our candles and put them “upon a candlestick,” that they “may shine to all that are in the house” (Mt. 5:15). He also advises anyone who would follow him to “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow” him (Lk. 9:23).

As St. Augustine suggests, Christ took up his cross in order to show us his light. The cross is a candlestick because it allows us to see Christ for who he is. In his suffering we see the truth of his humanity. But the cross, in a more mysterious manner, also points us to his divinity.

“Greater love than this no man has, that a man lay down his soul for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). The soul (Ψυχή) is the seat of life and all that implies, including our thoughts, choices, hopes, and fears. By sacrificing his soul for us, Christ demonstrates the magnitude of his love and thus demonstrates his divinity: for God is love (1 Jn. 4:8).

In his supreme love, Christ offers to share his divinity with us, to give us “the power to be made the sons of God” (Jn. 1:12). We accept this gift when we learn to love as he loves (Jn 13:34): to lay down our souls. “For whosoever will save his soul, shall lose it; for he that shall lose his soul for my sake, shall save it” (Lk. 9:24).

When we recognize our daily crosses as opportunities to surrender our souls to God by loving him and our neighbor in him, we see that carrying the cross is carrying the candlestick from which shines the light of Christ.

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