My parents gave me lots of things. A place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat, Care, love and teaching. There were many things they tried to teach me about life, like the clichés like “wait until you have kids of your own and then you will understand.” One of the pieces of advice that my parent’s taught me, whether it was school, or sports, or life was, “to always try hard and do your best.” They taught me about the important relationships that we have, like family and friends. One of those important relationships was also my relationship with God. It was my parents that brought me to church and it was there I learned about Jesus and I heard his teachings. I heard them and the stories about the message of hope that God had given to humanity through Jesus, but it has taken me along time to even begin to really get them. Most of those teachings have taken me most of my forty years to get. I think that understanding these teachings are something that I will be trying to do all my life.
Jesus is having to be a bit like a parent in todays gospel. Trying to figure out just how much the disciples have learned by asking “Who do you say I am?” Then he rebukes Peter, the one who had the correct answer previously, because he still doesn’t get it. And then Jesus makes it a teachable moment, for both the disciples and the surrounding crowd, by outlining the Way of the Cross that all Christian’s must walk if they wish to follow him.
The Way of the Cross is an important teaching for all of us to hear. Jesus, reminds us, first off, that our life is the most valuable and precious thing we have. He warns us that living our life following him will not be easy or without suffering. And he promises us that by following we will truly receive our life, which is an Eternal life. The Way of the Cross is the Christian journey and it is no simple path to follow. It is a path to the greatest reward, greater than anything this world could ever offer. Going to church, or spending one day thinking about God will only be important if it informs how you walk the path the other six days of the week.
If that path sounds a bit daunting, then Peter and the disciples can be a comfort to you. They were there with Jesus and even they struggled to get it right. Peter calls Jesus “Messiah” in the first part of the reading and then he tells Jesus to stop talking about his death and resurrection. Peter is one of the brighter disciples and here we see that even he gets it, but he doesn’t get it.
While Peter and the disciples can be a comfort, but they should not an excuse. We should not stop trying to follow the Jesus’ path, just because we find it too difficult. Everyday, each of us still has to make our own choices of how to act. Although we may fail, and we may not understand or be able to act out the entire Gospel Message fully as we stumble down the path, it should never be our excuse not to try hard and do our best.
There are times in our life when we need a little encouragement to the things that we know are right but that we might find difficult or challenging to do. I wish to encourage you today. It might sound a little cliché, like so much of my parent’s teaching, but it hold truth no the less.
It does not matter if you are young or old, if you have breath in you today, you have life, that most precious gift, and you have the opportunity to live it. It is not how you were born or how you die, but how you live out that life that is most important.