Like the Gospel of Nain two weeks ago we are in transition from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus is gathering his team. He is almost ready to go.
We read this Gospel each year from Matthew or Mark or Luke. We are very familiar with it. There are slight differences.
In our Gospel today (Luke) Jesus is at prayer. He was praying alone in the presence of his apostles. He questions them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” Jesus is seeking some knowledge from the apostles about the common opinion. They answered: John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the ancient prophets come back to life. Then the big question. “But you, who do you say I am?”
In all of the accounts it is Peter who answers: “The Christ of God”. Luke then says that he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this.
Let us study this. Why the silence? Why not shout it from the rooftops?
We know from Matthew’s account that Peter knows the true identity of Jesus because of the gift of faith; “Flesh and Blood have not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven”. They know half the message at this stage. They know Jesus is the Christ of God. They do not know, in fact they don’t want to know, that Jesus and consequently his followers must suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. They will take a long time to learn this. Hence the final instruction for today: “If you want to be a follower of mine, renounce yourself and take up your cross every day and follow me.”
Why the silence? Jesus wants the whole message to be clear. James and John and Peter have already seen the glory of God on Tabor. They are told to be silent. There is more to being a follower of Jesus than the Glory Glory. There is the Cross. We need not go looking for it. We will find it if we live the Gospel. We are asked to do no more than to take it up one day at a time!!
This is the core of the Christian tradition. The important thing is to know Jesus and who he is. To take up the Cross is just as important.