Today’s Gospel marks a high point in the Apostles’ relationship with Jesus. It must have been an exciting moment for them to learn that Jesus was no mere Rabbi, but the Messiah-the anointed one. Then, totally unexpectedly, Jesus tells them how he will be rejected, and will suffer a horrible and shameful death, by execution on a cross. It is clear that the disciples learning experience was not over. They had to discover, very painfully, just what kind of Messiah Jesus was. Addressing his words not only to them, but to everybody, Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me.”
Jesus’s way has also to be our way–but we don’t want crosses. We ask Jesus to take away the nasty things, and make life smooth all the way. But Jesus is urging us to let go. Our happiness, we need to learn, is not in having, but in sharing what we have. It is in giving, not in getting. It is in “letting go”, and “letting God”, as the old saying has it.