The Crèche and the Cross

Just when we were getting settled into our new house and things were starting to settle down, another crisis. After so much work, so many hours, so much invested, and it all came crashing down in less than a week. What were we to do? Where were we to turn? Why was this all happening to us?

Sometimes I hear hard news about crosses that others have to bear. I begin reflecting on my own life and realize that I have very few “chronic” crosses so to speak. My family is healthy, we have food on the table and two cars that usually run well. Although one can always dream about additional wants, the truth is, I suffer very little.

So perhaps this past weekend, which I consider one of the hardest to date, was meant to be a lesson to me that life is never without its crosses. Whether they be temporary or endured for years on end, crosses are an inevitable part our earthly journey.

We may find ourselves acting like Jonah and trying to run away from them, but I propose we take a look at today’s saint. St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite priest, reformer, mystic, poet and theologian attempted to embody “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”. (Mark 8:34b) states, “Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it.”

I have often wondered why we celebrate St. John of the Cross during Advent, when our minds are drawn to the cute Child in the manger and we try to prepare our hearts the best we can to receive him. Perhaps it is precisely because he is a reminder to us that every human, even the newborn God-man, will experience crosses, and Jesus’ is heavier than any of ours will ever be. Even during this joyful season, we cannot forget the fact that he was born to die for us.

So as we continue to hand our crosses over to God and try to bear them as best as we humanly can, let us pray together with the Psalmist:

“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. Remember that your compassion, O Lord, and your kindness are from of old. In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.”

Teach me your ways, O Lord, even if they lead me to the cross.

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling home improvement projects, finding fun ways to keep her four boys occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at Diocesan, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for almost 20 years.

Feature Image Credit: Carlos Daniel,