We should be amazed that Our Lord gives us, mere mortals, a choice to follow him. He calls us and he hopes we will respond to that call. But what is the choice? Is it a choice to live a life of continual suffering, of “taking up our cross” day after day by passively accepting whatever trials come our way? Of course not: the real choice is to fix our eyes on Jesus, or to try to live life on our own. It’s a choice between actively believing in Jesus, or passively accepting a kind of ‘default’ life in which we just go along with the rest of the world.
But if we want to choose Jesus over the default, we really need to understand who Jesus is. That’s why today’s gospel reveals Jesus to us and the call he is giving us. In fact, throughout this Lenten season, the Scripture readings at Mass will reveal more and more about Jesus. They will reveal to us that he is not just a good man whose example we should follow; he is the holy Son of God who became man so we could become sons and daughters of God. They will show us that he is not a God who tests our faith by making us suffer; he is the Lamb of God who laid down his life so that we could be transformed into his very image and likeness.
Seeing Jesus for who he is will also show us the difference between walking with him and going it alone. If we choose Jesus every day, our lives will change, and dramatically so. We won’t just be living as “mere mortals” anymore; we will find ourselves filled with the grace and power of Almighty God. We will be able to love the unlovable, to forgive the unforgivable, and to overcome the insurmountable. And yes, it may be costly; after all, there is a price to pay. There may be challenges and difficulties along the way, but we can be confident that as we choose Jesus, our lives will be marked by confidence and hope.