"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mk 8: 34).
We have many crosses to carry in our lives and when we can do so faithfully, we can live out the conclusion of these words. Living out the life of carrying the cross is really doing what St. Paul describes by saying, "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2: 19-20).
When we live in our spiritual lives, when we experience joys and sufferings and sorrows and grief and all sorts of emotions, it's worth asking yourself, is this really Christ's joy living in me that I'm really feeling? Is this really Christ's pain or sorrow or grief living in me that I am feeling? Is this a piece of his cross that I am experiencing in my own life? Or is it my own selfishness, is it my own "turned in on myself" element that I am experiencing?
It's different than saying I'm going to offer it up. Instead, this is acknowledging that Christ is living his life in me and that there is a piece of his cross that I am faithfully carrying. It creates a whole different way of looking at our sufferings in life. It makes us look at them from a redemptive point of view.
So is this Christ living in me or am I just living for myself?
When really reflecting on our suffering, we can see that Christ can really live in us. This is true for his joy too. There might be times when you'll experience joy and you know it's not from you. It really comes from the Lord; it is Christ living in you. It is Christ who is overjoyed at times and at other times grieved to his very spirit.
So is Christ living in me or am I just living for myself?
Which is it?