Today’s Gospel is a short one, at least in terms of words. But, like life, often the smallest verses have the greatest meaning and mystery associated with them. Let us read it again.
While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
So what does all that mean? Right from the top, the disciples continued to be amazed at the miracles that Jesus is working.
Luke has just finished describing the healing of a boy possessed by a demon and they are in awe. Coming off the transfiguration, where Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah, this only brings them closer to believing in him.
However, Jesus shakes them by repeating for a second time his forthcoming passion. They do not understand what he is talking about.
They are also a little stunned because he has warned them about the conditions for discipleship a few verses earlier.
Then he said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
If you were a disciple at that time it sounds like there is a lot of suffering to come, and they were not sure if they could handle it.
We know now that Jesus was taking about eternal life after the resurrection. But at the time the apostles would not have understood this as the resurrection was still to come along with the Holy Spirit that would breadth the grace of God into them and their missions.
So basically they were scared to question him on this further.
We have some of the same reactions in life ourselves. When we are faced with challenges, do we sometimes just turn a “deaf ear” to them.
Hoping they will go away, like a debt collector, a bad cold or even worst. Sometimes it is more serious than that, such as our relationships with others.
We might neglect them or hope that the other person will apologize first. Waiting to do something is a decision too. Something we often forget.
Jesus knew what was coming, and he was facing up to it fully, and trying to get the disciples to do the same.
He knew in advance the trials that were going to befall them after his crucifixion and resurrection. And the disciples they did not want to be reminded that “they have to pick up their cross as well”.
It takes a lot of strength to face up to death. At the time, the apostles knew that Jesus was a special man, but most (with the exception of Peter) had not make the full connection. That Jesus was God and that He was the Messiah.
That revelation was to come later for them, even after the resurrection, the disciples were still basically scared for their own lives, and it wasn’t until Pentecost, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit in the Upper room that they truly had “knowledge and understanding” of God and his plan for their lives.
So what seems like a few small words in today’s Gospel balloons out to the mystery of the Trinity and the wondrous power and awesome love God has for us.
Giving us His son in death and resurrection, giving us new life every time the sacrifice is made. Each time we partake of the Eucharist we are once again renewed with untold graces. These are the infused graces that reach into the deepest elements of our soul. Refreshing and enriching our faith and love for Jesus.
When we see the importance of time in Salvation history in Jesus’s ministry from his crucifixion and resurrection, we get a perspective of God’s long-term plan and love for us.
Before time began, there was ALWAYS the three persons of the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is eternal, so our own concept of time is irrelevant. God was, is and always will be as the Catechism states. CCC 205 “He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.”
So I will repeat … God the Father was always there, so was God the Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
All of this preplanned by God, by God the Father in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, God the Son in the New Testament and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity.
So the amazing mystery of the Trinity is bound up in these few warning lines to the disciples in the Gospel today.
Now we have more than 2000 years of tradition and celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to help us live out our faith with fidelity.
We have the truth of his presence in the Eucharist nourishing our souls, and we have the gifts and presence of the Holy Spirit to support and sustain us through the times when we have our own Cross to bear.
At the end of the day, it all returns to God’s intention for us. His saving grace, his unlimited love.
We can meditate on this call to us in his short poem called Love Sustains.
Love; a life sustaining grace,
Not visible, but obvious,
inexpensive, yet priceless,
unlimited, though often withheld.
Sustain your life today. Love someone.