In today’s passage from Mark, we read how Peter first identifies Jesus as the Messiah, and then, a moment later, rebukes Jesus for talking about the rejection, death, and resurrection he would have to undergo. It takes chutzpah to rebuke the Messiah, but it’s not hard to understand why Peter was so upset. He was thinking in rational, human terms, expecting the Messiah to come as a triumphant political leader. Instead, Jesus turns the world on its head by delivering the shocking, completely incomprehensible news of his impending suffering, death, and resurrection.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt like Peter, times when all my hopes and expectations went awry. Times when I’ve thought, “This is not the way things are supposed to go.” If it were up to Peter, maybe Jesus wouldn’t have suffered and died. But then there would have been no crucifixion … and no resurrection.
Jesus’ radical teaching reminds us not to limit our vision to our own narrow existence. He offers us a new path, a path that is difficult but that leads to far greater fulfillment. And when we suffer, he invites us to transform our suffering just as his suffering was transformed.
I pray that in times of anxiety, disappointment and loss, I may be given the strength to take up my cross, and be reminded to set my mind on divine things.