If Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday in Lent set us off on our Lenten journey, this week we find out just what this journey will require of us.

Peter asked: “What kind of Messiah are you?” Jesus’ answer comes as a surprise, but a surprise that we are ready for once we’ve let down the walls of our expectations and chosen a posture of openness and curiosity. Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). To those gathered, his words are a slap in the face. No one wants to take up a cross, because that means they are headed for execution.

Today, the cross is so ubiquitous a symbol that we lose a bit of the absurdity of Jesus’ statement. And yet, Lent offers us the opportunity to reorient ourselves toward the cross.