You might recall that last Sunday, as we listen to the Gospel from Matthew, we were with Jesus and the disciples in Caesara Philippi.
And one of the things that happens there is that Jesus asks them who the people say that I am, and they give various responses. And then Peter stands up and says to them in response, In all of their place, he says to them, says to Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of a living God. And Jesus responds that this is the rock upon which the church will be built, that this proclamation made by Peter a proclamation of faith.
And then we come to today’s episode. And again, the dialog is going on and Jesus is preparing them from Caesara Philippi. They will be journeying to Jerusalem and he’s preparing them for what will happen when they arrive in Jerusalem, how he will be crucified. And Peter’s response at that point to Jesus is you are the Christ this living God.
But Peter says to him, No, that’s not the way it’s going to play out. And Jesus responds very forcefully, Get behind me, Satan. They might say, Well, what’s really going on? Well, Jesus does explain that. He says that Peter is again using human logic, human thinking. And in a sense, the anticipation was that Jesus would go to Jerusalem and it would be like David arriving to claim the kingship.
But Jesus, his point is that we’re not thinking with God’s eyes, with God’s mind, or Jesus knows that He must go to Jerusalem to fulfill the will of the Father, but He must go to Jerusalem to reverse, to reverse what was the original sin. But the original sin was a sin of distrust, distrust of God and God’s plan and God’s ways.
And Jesus knows that in going to Jerusalem, He will manifest trust of the Father. Well, he is imbued with the love of God, and He will make that known through the gift of the resurrection. But the Father will open up a new door through the gift of the resurrection. He will open up our participation in God’s life. So as he continues, he then says to them that they must take up their cross.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood phrases in Scripture, because we all think, Well, I must take up my cross, you know, and maybe that crosses that I’m getting old, maybe that crosses that. I have people I have to be carried carrying for. Maybe I have an illness that I have to struggle with that maybe financially I’m a little on edge.
We always think of, again, the cross being the burdens that I have in my life. But I would suggest to you that what Jesus is saying here when he says that he wants to take up the cross, is talking about taking up the cross of Jesus. That one must carry the cross of Jesus. And in carrying the cross of Jesus, we carry the weight of sin in the world.
We carry the weight of injustice in the world. We carry the cries of the poor in our hearts. But that’s the cross that Jesus carried, and that’s the cross that we’re invited to carry as our expression of being at one with Jesus. And in this sense, the cross we carry is the cross of Jesus. But in carrying that cross, we are also called to the redemptive action of Jesus.
But Jesus did not carry the cross solely for the sake of carrying the cross. He carried the cross that he might reverse reversed the human condition and opened it up to the glory of God. And it is the same with us as we carry the cross of Christ. We carry within us the pain that He endured. We carry the pain of the migrant.
We carry the pain of the refugee, We carry the pain of the poor. We carry the pain of the young who are lost in so many ways on the face of this earth, wondering what their life is about. We carry the pain of the elderly, often abandoned and put to the side. And as we carry all of that pain, which is the cross, we carry it for a purpose that by our actions we may continue the work of Jesus, which is reversing.
Reversing all that all might better give witness that all might better experience the love of God manifested by our willingness to live by the will of God. And so we come each week to the Eucharist. We come here literally recognizing our frailty and our weakness and we say, Lord, draw me into your life, Lord, give me your strength in carrying the cross that we experience day in and day out.
Give me the strength to continue your redemptive work, rolling off the weight of the cross that my help, my brothers and sisters to experience the joy of living in God.