Jesus asked his disciples about who people said that he was and Peter, through the revelation of God 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 what kind of Messiah that he would be, a suffering servant.
The reality that the Messiah, 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 have followed him and would walk the path following him today. 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 does not necessarily mean that we will give our life, but it does mean that we are to empty ourselves so as to be more available to the needs of others.
Our discipleship will be ultimately expressed in love, in our willing the good of the other who is in need. We must resist the temptation to turn in on ourselves such that we embrace our ego, our anxiety, fear, prejudices, and biases. Instead, we are to keep our mind and heart open to the leading of the Holy Spirit who will reveal to us the ways, no matter how small, that we can love and serve.
We also need to resist seeking to conform God to our will and our image. Jesus calls us not to contract but to expand, to go out from ourselves to love God with our whole mind, heart, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This dying to self, to be crucified with Christ, is to be expressed in all aspects of our lives. 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: Volunteering at Rosarian Academy Auction some time ago. Keeping Jesus, the crucified Messiah, at the center of our lives helped us to grow in our love for God, each other and those he sent us to serve.