There are times when I create expectations about the way things should be that it destroys my ability to appreciate how things actually are. For example, does this restaurant really serve the best meals one will ever eat? It’s natural to have expectations, but they must be realistic. Often there is nothing wrong with reality, rather, my expectations of it!
The disciples get a surprise in our Gospel today. Jesus asks them a simple but puzzling question. “Who do you say I am?” After all, how long have they been with him? Peter answers with the preconceived notion of who Jesus is and who the Messiah would be. Their expectation of Jesus and the reality of what it means to be the Messiah and what it means to be his disciples do not jive! For Jesus tells them, disciples must “take up their cross.” The disciples are hardly prepared for that kind of relationship.
It is no coincidence that our Gospel begins with the question of identity and then ends up with the cost of discipleship. Jesus’ reality check about discipleship opens up possibilities for a richer life.
By being united with Jesus through our Baptism, we also participate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, giving of ourselves for the good of others.