Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
While Jesus is heading to Jerusalem, the place where he will face rejection, suffering and death, he realizes that many people follow him and claim to be his disciple. He knows that it will not be easy and at the moment of danger, even his most faithful followers, the group of the twelve apostles, will escape and leave him alone.
It is a mistake to pretend to be “disciples” of Jesus without ever stopping to reflect on the concrete demands of following in his footsteps, and on the forces we have to count on for it. Jesus never thought of unconscious followers, but of coherent and responsible people.
In the two examples that Jesus uses to explain the meaning of being his disciple, the two characters “sit down” to reflect on the true demands, the risks and the forces they have to count on to carry out their mission. We are baptized, we go after Jesus, but are we aware of what it means to be Christians? Do we know and accept the cross that we must carry?