Sunday 22nd of Ordinary Time

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

Before that he was on the run for several years.

Of the time he was on the run he wrote later,* ‘ I had to separate myself from my wife and children. I had to say goodbye to the good old days when, at the end of a strenuous day at the office, I could look forward to joining my family at the dinner table.

Instead, I had to take up the life of a man hunted continuously by the police, living separated from those who are closest to me, facing continually the hazards of detection and arrest. This was a life infinitely more difficult than serving a prison sentence.’

*(Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiography by South African President Nelson Mandela, and first published in 1994.)

What was it that drove Nelson Mandela to make such a sacrifice? It was his love for his country. This was the ‘cross’ he carried because of his love for his people.

For a number, religion is seen as a crutch, something to lean on in times of weakness and infirmity, however something to forget in times of well-being.

While it is true that religion is a support – like a crutch, perhaps also religion is like a pair of wings, encouraging and enabling us to fly – and of course flying necessitates a leaving behind the secure perch I am resident on.

Today’s Gospel, (Mt. 16: 21 -27) has the challenge from Jesus to “take up your cross.”

Have you considered that ‘taking up your cross ‘may not be about adding more weight, rather it is about growing wings and learning how to fly!

You may like to take some flying lessons from St. Joseph of Cupertino, the patron saint of aviators!

Ps. Feel quite free to take someone else with you!