Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)
Verse 21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Verse 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." Verse 23But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
Verse 24Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Verse 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Verse 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? Verse 27"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Verse 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
One aspect of the cross we would usually rather not think about has to do with obedience in the face of divine silence. This is what Jesus had to contend with during his innocent suffering and death, and it is what so many exemplary Christ-followers have endured as well.
Mother Teresa, it was learned after her death, felt little intimate contact with God for over forty years of her career serving the “least of these” in Calcutta. An overwhelming awareness of God’s love and of Jesus’ presence in the poor had spurred her onto this path, but then that awareness went away. Fortunately, a trusted priest counseled her that this was the dark night of the soul she was experiencing, known to many who had taken up the cross before her. The right response, as she was doing, was an even more complete surrender.
Lord Jesus, you show by your cross that it is a “divine thing” to go into the no-God place and remain there, steadfastly serving others. Help me to stick with the call too, trusting that you accompany me in the dark, and confident that glory will come at the last. Amen.