• Sarah Raad


“…The lonely Cross is calling for a pair of shoulders to bear it.” (“The Way”, Saint Josemaria Escriva).

Cross 2 (Kume Bryant)

Ever since I met him, my husband has bought lottery tickets. And I never have.

My husband and I have a running family joke – he buys the lottery tickets and I pray that they do not win, because I believe in the curse of the lottery.

I know that most people would consider winning the lottery to be the most wonderful things that could happen in their lives... But psychologists and sociologists have long studied the implications of large financial winnings on human interactions. You see, researchers identify this as the curse of the lottery, which refers to the extremely common outcome that people who win the lottery are “cursed” with terrible lives afterwards. Often their families break apart and they (or their loved ones) become involved with drinking, drugs and gambling and they waste their winnings and end up with less than they had at the time when they won the money in the first place. Now, I am generalising of course, and not every single person who wins the lottery will end up miserable – I am quite sure in fact that some lottery winners end up very very happy indeed – but the point that I am making is perhaps that “all that glitters is not gold” (as Shakespeare would say)…

You see, I was looking at a cross – a crucifix – the other day.

There it was in plain and simple wood. There was no figure of Christ on it. It was not an artistic representation of Christ; rather it was a symbol of the sacrifice of God the Son for the salvation of humanity. As I looked at that cross – that symbol – I recalled some words that I had read from a book written by Saint Josemaria Escriva called “The Way”…

“You ask me: why that wooden Cross? — And I copy from a letter: ‘As I look up from the microscope, my sight comes to rest on the cross — black and empty. That Cross without its Crucified is a symbol. It has a meaning which others cannot see. And though I am tired out and on the point of abandoning the job, I once again bring my eyes to the lens and continue: for the lonely Cross is calling for a pair of shoulders to bear it.’”

In the Gospel of Saint Mark we are told the story of the calling of the apostle Matthew… “As He (Christ) walked along, He saw Levi (Matthew) son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed Him.” (Mark 2:14).

This is extraordinary, revolutionary, amazing – almost unbelievable… Matthew who was a wealthy and successful Jewish man who had found favour under Roman dictatorship IMMEDIATELY LEFT EVERYTHING – his home, his family, his money, his things, his friends, his job, his protection, his power – and he left it to follow the Cross even before he understood the true calling of the Cross…

What Matthew did was so extraordinary that it beggars belief… You see, it would be like us rejecting the lottery to go to prison…

For that is what Matthew did. He left the lottery that was his life – all the luck and wealth and power – and he followed a poor teacher who would be executed as a criminal. And then later, so too would Matthew be executed as a criminal…

And Matthew did that because he understood that “the lonely Cross is calling for a pair of shoulders to bear it.” And he understood that without even seeing the Cross…

How much I pray to Saint Matthew to intercede for me. For I would give all my heart and my soul to receive the Grace to be a worthy pair of shoulders for the Cross.

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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