Jesus throws out a challenge to all who wish to follow him in today’s Gospel. Immediately after St. Peter identified him as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus declares that he is not the sort of Christ people expected. Instead of being a conquering hero, he must suffer greatly and be killed. Even worse, each of his followers “must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
That’s the contradiction of the Christian life. The fallen world, what St. Paul terms “this age,” is centered on self – indulging what our wills want so we can achieve maximum pleasure, power, and prestige. But Christians are called to let our minds be transformed and renewed by Jesus Christ, so that our wills are conformed to the will of God. We die to self so we can live for God.
When we allow God’s formation to renew our minds, we discover that it changes how we use our time, apply our talent, and spend our treasure. We pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” When our minds have been renewed by God’s grace, we do our best to make this prayer come true.