I have just returned from an eight day retreat at St Beuno’s in Wales. You spend the time in complete silence, meet with a person once a day to reflect on your time of prayer of the previous day and share what movements of the spirit there have been if any.
It isn’t “navel gazing” but moving from silence to stillness and in the stillness listening to what God is saying to you.
One of the passages that I was asked to reflect on was the gospel for today. Jesus asks the question of his disciples “Who do you say I am?” That is a good question for all of us to reflect on: Who is Jesus for us? We could answer this question by reciting part of the creed, or by quoting key passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Peter answered Jesus on behalf of the group by saying, “You are the Christ.” Peter did well. But he didn’t really like what Jesus said next.
“Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and to be put to death and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly.” Peter took Jesus aside and remonstrated with him. The response of Jesus was firm. “Get behind me Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”
Today the other question for us is: Do you want to be a follower of Jesus?
Jesus says what this entails.
‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it but anyone who loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’
What does it mean for us to take up his cross and follow him? At the beginning of the Rite of Baptism the celebrant makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the child and says,
“I claim you for Christ our Saviour by the sign of the cross.”
The prophet Ezekiel wrote of his vision of a time of repentance thus “And the Lord said to him, “Go straight though the city all through Jerusalem and mark a cross on the foreheads of all who grieve and lament over all the loathsome practices in it” (9:4) The Hebrew for cross here is Tau.
At the opening of the Fourth Lateran Council Pope Innocent III used this text as a symbol of spiritual renewal of the church. Francis of Assisi heard of the Pope’s use of the image and adopted the Tau sign as his signature. To take on this cross sign was turning the turning away from sinful ways and having a commitment to the standard of Christ.
Lord give me the grace today to begin again as your disciple in word and action. I abandon myself into your hands, do with me what you will. I am ready for all. I accept all. Let only your will be done in me.