Commentary on the Gospel of
St. Peter just points out Jesus’ messianic identity; and our Lord’s response was a stern warning, not to make Him known for a single reason: till after His Passion, death and resurrection. We have a saviour who lays down his life for our sake, a saviour who sacrifices that we may have life in abundance. That’s the nature of his messiahship!
He is rejected by the authority – elders, chief priests and scribes; yet, their attitude does not deter Him from accomplishing His redemptive roles, including the salvation of those who inflict violence on Him. What an irony! What goes on in oneself when subjected to hatred and hurt? What is one’s attitude in dealing with revengeful feelings that naturally crop up when violated by others? Our Lord invites us to copy from Him! Our Lord is aware of His impending death, yet He does not give in to revenge. He rather focuses on the participation of His disciples in their redemption. And so, He invites each one of us emulate His example: ‘deny oneself, take up the cross daily.’
St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, beautifully brings out the Jesus’ example - that though He was in the form of God, He humbled Himself, taking the form of a servant, becoming one like us in obedience to the Father. Jesus’ choice of doing the Father’s Will leads Him to walking the streets preaching the Word of God; touching the sick and healing them; enduring hunger and thirst for forty days in the desert amid the devil’s temptation; receiving insults from people without revenging! We too find ourselves or our loved one sick, in need of healing; malnourished, due to quest of food; abused by seemingly more powerful forces! All these existential realities expose us to challenging situations which demand our human responses.
We would prefer peaceful, threat-free living conditions! But we are prevailed upon by these realities. We call on God; sometimes our relief is delayed and our faith in God tested! Yet, our Lord says, take up your cross and daily! Lenten season reminds us that Jesus Himself though aware of His impending death, persevered, carried his energy-sapping cross to the end. Today, He renews His invitation that we copy His example perseveringly, because, by so doing we cooperate en route to our eternal salvation. Lord, help us to remain steadfast to the end, amen.