In today’s Gospel, Peter first gets it right, and then gets it terribly wrong. Jesus has gradually revealed himself to his disciples; by his teaching, by his miracles, and by their life together. Now, he wants to see if the disciples have understood his teaching. Peter, prompted by the Holy Spirit, gives the right answer to Jesus’ question: ‘You are the Christ’ – God’s chosen and anointed one.
But when Jesus spells out to his disciples what is to come – that he will be betrayed, arrested and put to death – Peter is horrified. This mustn’t happen to his friend. Jesus rebukes Peter. He is absolutely obedient to his Father’s will, and he will face all that lies ahead, without resisting. Jesus goes on to teach the disciples that anyone who wants to follow him must give up their own desires and take up their own cross. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be like him.
It is a hard and challenging teaching. Our own cross might be one of sickness, discrimination, loneliness or many other things. We may have to make hard choices, to be true to our faith in Christ. If we suffer injustice, our instinct is to fight back; but Jesus asks us to follow his example. He calls us to walk a hard road. But it is the same road that he has already walked himself.