Anyone involved with youth knows that the question of identity is the question for them. They are trying to find out who they are in terms of talents, career choices, how they relate to others. All of this is a positive step in maturation during which they identify their strengths and weaknesses, consider their gifts and bond with others who help them in this somewhat painful process. When asked about who they are, no one would answer in terms of pain, suffering or death.
In our Gospel today, Jesus asks a similar question about his identity. When Peter answers, the Christ of God, little did he know that implied suffering greatly, being rejected and being killed! This is the way Jesus becomes who he really is – the Risen One. When we think Jesus’ mission we usually think of his teaching and preaching, his healing and working miracles. Bur underlying these activities is his suffering, death and resurrection. And so it is with us.
We are called to daily take up our cross; to die to ourselves and to care for others. Following Jesus has its cost. We save our lives by losing them. Self-giving is life-giving.