Mark 8:31-38 (CEV)
Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teacher of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life." Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.
Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, "Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God."
Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said: "If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What could you give to get back your soul?
"Don't be ashamed of me and my message among these unfaithful and sinful people! If you are, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
1. First Jesus uses imagery and metaphor to talk about sweep of his life yet before him. It is recorded that he then went on to explain clearly what he meant. This explanation, which we don't have here, was apparently interrupted by Peter telling Jesus that he had gotten it wrong.
Jesus responds that it is Peter, thinking like everyone else, who had it turned around. We, like Peter, have a tendency to think like everyone else of our time. We can see that as we look back at previous generations. We can project it into our own time. However, we have a most difficult time getting out of the trap of thinking like our culture thinks.
A part of the Lenten Journey is doing our best to clarify our own and each other's thinking about the sweep of life yet before us.
2. As we listen to Jesus further responding about thinking like everyone else we run into the challenge of the good news which turn our usual thinking upside down. You may remember from Chapter 1 the cries of "You are beloved," "The time has come!" and "turn back to God and believe the good news." The good news has to do with taking up one's cross (mission in life) and living a life of service. In every time this has to do with living against the economics and power structure of the day. Can you imagine what that would mean in the year 2000? To imagine it is to participate in the Lenten Journey leading to Easter.
3. So, guess what, we are called to live our life, to bear our cross, in the midst of unfaithful and sinful people. We are not called to barricade ourselves in an enclave of purity, Jesus certainly didn't. We are not called to give allegiance to profit and vote-gathering, Jesus certainly didn't.
We are called to simply enhance the sense of being GOD's beloved in ourselves and in others. This very simple action will lead us to our cross. May this be a goal for your Lenten Journey this time around.
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