People if they are honest must give different answers to the question that Jesus poses not just to his disciples in the Gospel, but to us who call ourselves his disciples.
1) Jesus is someone who lived in the past. Christmas is in some way connected with him. He lived and taught but I don’t know much about his teaching. I don’t read the bible. Some people would say that he is a miracle worker. He died on a cross and his followers claim that he rose from the dead.
2) Jesus is someone I turn to when I have problems or difficulties. When there is an illness or problem with my children, when a son must go into the army or is getting ready for desert storm or some similar danger, then I turn to Jesus. Jesus is someone from whom I wish to receive things.
3) In today’s Gospel we heard Peter say, “You are the Messiah.” But we notice that immediately after these words Jesus tells them not to say anything to anyone. Peter has the correct words but must not have the right idea. It is for this reason that Jesus tells him to tell no one. Peter when he used the word Messiah was thinking of an earthly kingdom, perhaps Jesus would cast out the Romans and enjoy a place of prominence. Peter as one of his close followers would also enjoy a position of honor, prestige, influence, power. The indications are that this is what Peter and the other disciples understood and hoped for from Jesus a Messiah. Many people still today have the right words but the wrong understanding of Jesus. The health and wealth Gospel is an example of misunderstanding Jesus and his message.
4) Jesus tells his disciples and us, “if you want to be my follower you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.” He also says that he must go up to Jerusalem and die. Some people respond to the cross by asking: “Why me? What did I do wrong? I’m no worse than other people. When the cross is present we must remember Jesus words to take up our cross daily and follow him.
5) A teacher gave her students this assignment. Locate a scar on your body. After locating the scar they were to tell the story of that scar. We may have physical scars we can point to. But all of us have as well psychological and spiritual scars. As Christians, followers of Jesus, we must carry crosses in our lives. The promise of Jesus is that he will bring us through our crosses to new life as he went through crosses and THE CROSS to his new life. Hopefully Jesus for us is our companion on the way. If we have a friend and never talk to, write to, visit that friend we lose something of that friendship. We should try to answer the question: Who do you say that Jesus is? But together with that question we should ask: What do I think of the cross?
from Edward Reyna: He first spoke about what the cross, crucifixion meant in Jesus’ time: cruel punishment, horrible death, teach a lesson. What does it mean in my life to carry my cross? We must look into ourselves and see what needs to die. Then we must take the necessary steps, this is carrying our cross. On obituaries we read what people say that a person is. But what do I say that I am?
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