Jesus asked his disciples about who people said that he was and Peter, through the revelation of God the Father answered, “the Christ of God” (Lk 9:20). Jesus then responded that, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised” (Lk 9:22).
Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Yet, that meant many things to many people who were awaiting the coming of the Messiah. For most, they were hoping for a military leader to come to lead them and overthrow the Roman occupiers. As soon as Peter made his statement, Jesus clarified the Messiah that he would be, the suffering servant.
This reality that Jesus was the suffering servant, willing to give his life on the Cross for all of humanity and creation, is also true for all who would walk the path following Jesus. If we seek to be a disciple of Jesus, our steps will also lead us to the Cross. We must be willing to be martyrs, witnesses of our faith in our everyday experiences and encounters. This may begin with prayer, worship, and study but our discipleship will be ultimately expressed in love. We must resist the temptation to turn in on ourselves such that we embrace our ego, our anxiety, fear, prejudices and biases.
We need to resist seeking to conform God to our will, and instead be willing to go out from ourselves to love God with our whole mind, heart, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. This dying to self, our self centered stance is to be crucified with Christ, and is to be expressed in all aspects and areas of our life. We are not to be one way for one hour at Church on Sunday and the rest of our time live like Sunday never happened. We are to surrender ourselves to Jesus and be Jesus for others in every action, decision, and encounter we engage in. Christianity is not about compartmentalization, but it is about transformation and conformation to the Body of Christ!
Photo: New crucifix in the chapel and Cardinal Newman