Some texts of Scripture are comforting and encouraging.
Others are demanding and quite challenging.
This is the case with the words we hear in the readings of this Sunday (22nd of Year A).
In his letter to the Romans, Paul invites them (12:1-2) to something especially difficult when he tells them:
“to discover the will of God and know what is good,
what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.”
Searching for what is good and pleasing to God, yes, but more still: striving for what is perfect!
This advice is a challenge indeed, it calls for an ongoing effort to stretch ourselves, to go beyond what has been achieved already.
It asks for… more!
And is there not a little irony in the fact that the well-known sign for more is… + yes, the sign of a cross!
In today’s gospel (Mt.16:21-27), Jesus tells his apostles that this is what is awaiting him: the cross.
His words meet with more than a little resistance from Peter.
As they may do from us also…
But Jesus message is clear and uncompromising:
“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine…
let him take up his cross and follow me.”
We would rather choose another way but… this is HIS way.
And, as he asks us to follow him, we know that he is inviting us also to where this leads:
“When the Son of God comes in his glory, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.”