Take up your cross and follow me
Last week, Peter made his great profession of faith in Jesus; ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and he was given the role of leading the Church. But this week, Jesus denounces Peter as ‘Satan’ and as an obstacle or ‘stumbling block’ in Jesus’ path. Why the sudden change of tone? Because Jesus has begun to spell out to his disciples the cost of his mission. Jesus is absolutely faithful to the will of God the Father, and he knows that this will lead him to Jerusalem, to condemnation and to death on the Cross. He is prepared to pay the price; to offer himself as a living sacrifice, in obedience to the Father’s will. Peter, naturally, doesn’t want to see his friend suffer in this way, and so he objects. But in reply, Jesus tells Peter that he is stuck in human ways of thinking.
Today’s First Reading reminds us that the prophets of Israel always paid a price for speaking the Word of God. The prophet Jeremiah was imprisoned for speaking out against the rulers of the nation. Jeremiah laments the ridicule and humiliation that he has suffered, but he doesn’t stop preaching. God’s call is one that cannot be ignored.
It can be uncomfortable to be a Christian. The Lord asks us to take up our cross, whatever it is, and to follow him faithfully. He calls us to give up human thinking, and embrace the wisdom of the Cross. And he promises us the greatest reward of all; eternal life with him.