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Isaiah 1:10-17; Matthew 10:34-11:1

Today’s reading from Matthew includes the very familiar warning from Jesus, “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” Having returned from a Holy Land pilgrimage about 3½ weeks ago, Jesus words have a new context to me. During the pilgrimage, our group made the Way of the Cross through the crowded and bustling passageways in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. Groups of six or seven of us took turns carrying a large wooden cross for a couple of the stations. Though the prayers we said were familiar, this was a whole different way of experiencing the Stations of the Cross. We passed by shops and street vendors, who probably witness this on a daily basis, but it was uniquely poignant and inspirational for those of us who were participating. Although, we did not carry the cross alone and it was not as big or heavy as the original one, there was an element of reality to it all. We ended the stations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus’ crucifixion and entombment are commemorated. Each time I pray the stations in the future, my memories of that experience will be rekindled and intensify the meaning of the prayers.

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