Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “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.”
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
As we return to Ordinary Time, we are gently reminded of the great feast of Easter that we have just celebrated. “He (Jesus) said, “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.” ”
The placement of this reading in Year C is indeed subtle. It is a gentle reminder, a subtle nudge, a quiet word that speaks to us a powerful message. Every Sunday is a celebration of the Easter events and every day lived as a Disciple is a living out of those same Easter events that shape and form us as Christians.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Simply put, Discipleship comes at a cost. It comes in the form of sacrifice, the need to seek forgiveness and to forgive, the need to be loved and to love. As St. francis of Assisi reminds us in his famous ‘Peace Prayer’.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
It is in this context of ‘dying to self’, a process that is initiated through the waters of Baptism, that we are asked by Jesus to respond to a personal invitation to Discipleship. “But who do you say that I am?”
It is a question that requires a response, in fact it demands a response from us. If the answer is the same as Peter the Apostle, that Jesus is the Messiah, then there must be a conversion of heart. Such a conversion leads to a form of living which is without doubt, bringing Christ to the world. For it is through the Disciples of today, through every Baptised person, that the Gospel is proclaimed to the world. Individually, we may be the conduit through which another person finds God. Collectively, it is through all Christians that the love and peace of Christ enters the world. In this ordinary time, may we do extraordinary things.