Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter has the right answer; Jesus is the Christ, God’s anointed one, the Messiah for whom Israel has been waiting. But Peter is shocked by what comes next. The Christ is destined for rejection, suffering and death. His model is the Suffering Servant, described in today’s First Reading from the prophet Isaiah, who trusts completely in God’s power to save him. Jesus makes it absolutely clear to his disciples, and to the people, that anyone who wants to be his follower must walk the same road that he does – the way of the Cross. No wonder Peter is horrified.
Christ’s disciples are not called to seek out suffering for its own sake, but to give ourselves to others with self-sacrificing love, and to accept patiently whatever difficulties life may bring us. There are many Christians whose lives are an inspiring example of Christ-like love and sacrifice. This is what we commit ourselves to as followers of Jesus. If, like Peter, we recognise Jesus as the Christ, then he calls us to take up our cross and follow him.