Following the Feeding of the 5000 and the crowds desire for a nationalist Jewish Messiah-king, Christ probes the Apostles about their perceptions of His identity, prompting Simon Peter to give his divinely inspired exhaltation that Jesus is “The Christ of God.” Now Christ will begin to clarify to the Apostles what God intends for the Christ.

Acknowledging that He is the Christ (Christ does not correct Peter), Christ forbids the Apostles to reveal His identity for the time being; the Apostles will proclaim Christ’s true identity after the Resurrection. Clarifying God’s plan, Christ mysteriously alludes to the horrific death He will endure, death on a cross; given the Roman’s common harsh use of crucifixion to intimidate those they ruled and Jewish stigmatization of those “hung on a tree” (Deut 21:23), the Apostles would have been shocked by Christ’s revelation.

A further shock, Jesus reveals the Apostles must also submit to self-sacrifice by picking up their own crosses and following Him if they wish to be saved. Christ calls on the Apostles and all disciples, to “take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  Christ emphasizes His death on the Cross, a death that Jews would consider cursed and shameful, must be accepted by His followers: those who are ashamed of Christ’s Cross will be rejected by Christ after the Resurrection. All of the Apostles except Judas will come to embrace the shame of Christ’s Cross, including a number who are crucified.

1) Rather than meeting men’s expectations, Christ dramatically overturns long-held views about the Messiah. Marvel at how God saves through the completely unexpected.

2) The Church blesses men with the Lenten season, a time when men can choose to pick up their cross and prepare to witness and imitate Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross. Refresh your understanding of the Cross (CCC 616-618) and pray for Christ to help you identify and accept your cross during the Lenten season.

3) Christ specifically says each man must “take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Reflect on the need for Daily Prayer (CCC 2659-2660) and ask Christ to help you make the commitment to frequent daily prayer during Lent (and for the rest of your life!).