Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The world values greatly being first and we spend much time trying to be the best. How to be first? Jesus tells us something quite surprising in the Gospel: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Such an attitude, free of jealousy and selfish ambition, will bear the fruit of peace, both inner and outer, that St. James speaks of in the second reading.
But this is more than a mere worldly wisdom that Jesus gives. It’s not just a wise but secular admonition to avoid selfish ambition to achieve inner harmony. Rather, Jesus’ teaching is tied to the cross, for he speaks it immediately after predicting his passion and death. In the cross, Jesus made himself “the last of all and the servant of all.” The peace that comes from following Jesus in humility comes from being conformed to the Prince of Peace and the Author of Life. The path to inner peace and harmony, sought and promised by many in today’s world, can be found only in the divine wisdom that beckons us to follow in the humility of our Savior.
—Fr. Matthew Monnig, S.J.
Lord, you ask a question to Peter that could be asked of us: “Who do you say that I am?” If one were to review a video of our day, capturing both the daily routines and the more significant moments, would we be identified as followers of Christ? Or would our thoughts and behaviors be similar to that of the unbeliever? Lord, I recommit myself to you this day. I want to be your follower who proclaims a definitive “Yes” to your challenge: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team