The discipleship and the cross
31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 34 And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mk 8, 31-38)
Jesus should not merely die for the sinners but also be rejected. The crucifixion of Jesus did not mean mere suffering but also being rejected. At the cross, Jesus suffered, rejected, without dignity and honour, by virtue of divine necessity.
The disciples knew that Jesus was the Messiah (Peter had just confessed that in Caesarea Philipi on the disciples behalf). They could imagine to rule together with him, but when Jesus began to speak about suffering and rejection, Peter found it necessary to require Jesus to calm down. Yet in her first beginnings, the Church didn’t want to share the cross of her Lord.
Jesus must tell it the disciples plainly and clearly that he cannot spare them from suffering and being rejected in the discipleship of their Lord. Someone who doesn’t want to suffer and to be rejected with him cannot be his disciple. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me.” “Take up one’s cross” means: to suffer and to be rejected like Jesus.
As we have heard already, baptism is the call to discipleship. As soon as we hear the call and want to live according to our baptism our life must change totally. The baptism means death and life for us. Without baptism, we could never bury our old life and begin a New Life. At baptism, we die together with Christ and at baptism we resurrect together with Christ. Christ calls us out of our old attachments; that means: out of our old life by baptism, and that means suffering and dying. In chapter “call to discipleship” we have already seen that the beginning of Christian life can be accompanied by some trouble. The joy of discipleship is the community of the believers in the Church.
Because of our belonging to Christ, we will be rejected by the world.
After we have been called by Christ, we daily fight against sin and devil. Every day we will face new attacks by flesh and world and that means another suffering.
Particularly the Christian will be strongly attacked and consequently must forgive much; also that is suffering.
The true Church will prefer suffering and rejection instead of being ashamed of her Lord. The true Church will not be ashamed of both her Lord and His commandments but prefer suffering.