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-translation
In today’s gospel Jesus asks his apostles that famous question: “Who do people say that I am?” His disciples offer various replies. Now imagine Jesus walking along with any of us. We can imagine Jesus stopping, looking into our eyes, and saying: “Now who do you say that I am?” This question goes to our hearts. And each of us will answer it in different ways. Now pay attention to what Jesus says next “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me….whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
There is an important truth buried in the connection between these two teachings: we can only answer that “who do you say I am?” question out of our experience of taking up the cross as Jesus did. Sometimes we pick up the cross through taking an unpopular position; sometimes it comes in the hidden care of a chronically ill relative or friend; often it happens as we endure those pinches of reality that bring unwanted suffering in ways we do not plan. Thus our “cross-bearing” becomes a life-changing, redemptive experience. It’s all about the business of losing our lives as we walk with Jesus…Jesus who throws us into relationship with one another, relationships grounded in God’s own generous, life-giving love.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Those who commit themselves to the follow of Christ pledge to share his life and destiny.
Like Jesus, they do not regard life as something to be enjoyed egotistically
but rather as service to their fellow human beings, particularly the neediest.
—Leonardo Boff, OFM