Thursday, February 5, 2015

Take Up Your Cross

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." Mark 8:27 - 9:1 
We arrived in Rome yesterday afternoon. A bustling modern city dotted with ancient wonders. Tomorrow we have been invited to see the excavations under St. Peter's basilica, going to the place where Peter was buried. This wondrous place, where generations have come, was the site where Peter was crucified upside down. That which was a site of the worst of humanity became holy ground, sacred and beuatiful for all the world.
Jesus is having a very intimate conversation with his disciples,  Peter, who was fast to blurt out the true nature of Jesus. He was also fast to get upset with the Jesus' understanding of his last days. Jesus points out to them and to us, if we would be followers, we must put aside our needs and expectations, and ven our own comforts, in order to be made whole and complete in God's kingdom. 
Today I ask God to help me put my needs second and be a servant to all I encounter. May we all understand that following Jesus means following and always being willing to set aside our agenda for the needs of the world. May God honor what we offer and bring us to that place where our humanity is transformed by divine love.

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