Jesus told his apostles everything. He told them that this was not going to be easy. Salvation is not cheap. It comes with a price. Jesus told them that he would have to suffer greatly even from his own people- the chief priests, and the elders, and the scribes. Jesus would be rejected, mocked, ridiculed, hated and tortured.
Peter was the one who jumped forward, and said - "Lord, this can’t happen to you - you should have a safe space where you will never have to worry about all that suffering." Peter wanted Jesus to avoid the reality of the cross, but Jesus rebukes Peter immediately. Jesus had no intention to avoid the cross. Jesus knew the consequences of sin were grave and serious. He knew that sin would be the ruin of humanity, and that we would have to spend an eternity locked out of the kingdom of heaven. This was serious business.
What Peter said sounded very nice, but he was trying to avoid reality. Life for us is full of sacrifices; the reality is that life has suffering. The reality is that we will often disagree with others; that there will always be two sides to every story. Even though Peter was well intentioned, and he thought that he was going to keep Jesus from the reality of suffering, Jesus knew that it was the only way for us to be saved. Jesus knew that he had to go to the cross. And He embraced the cross for our sake.
Then, to Peter’s surprise, Jesus invites him along the journey, just like he invites us to take up our cross. No wonder we hesitate. No wonder we are afraid to take up our cross. No wonder we are reluctant to step out of our safe spaces and take up our cross. Is being a Christian tough? Yes. It is tough to love someone. It is tough to forgive someone. It is tough to go outside our comfort zone. Jesus carried a physical cross for us. Our challenge comes in denying ourselves. Our tendency is to give in to our tendency to create a safe space. St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we should be transformed by the renewal of our mind, and that we should not conform ourselves to the world. We need to change the way we think. We need to face the realities of life. Quite often, we get caught up in our own world. We don’t want to let others in, and we don’t want to go outside our world.
Christ would not ask us to do anything that is beyond our ability. Christ would not ask us to take up the cross, if he thought we couldn’t handle it. Actually the cross Jesus asks us to take up is our own self-indulgence. If we are willing, the Lord is there to help us. The Holy Spirit is there to transform our minds and hearts, so that the suffering in life not just over burdensome, but that we would feel safe in every environment. Every place becomes safe because Christ is there. Every situation becomes acceptable because Jesus went before us. Jesus is the one who carried the cross for us.
So we should pray together that the Lord would renew our mind and our heart. Jesus made a big sacrifice for us, and asks us to give Him small steps along the way.