One of the most important spiritual tools is that of mindfulness. You could translate that as a kind of being in the moment; being aware of what is happening, what God is doing here an now. This is a difficult concept for us modern people to get, because we fly from one thing to another so quickly, we hardly give things a moment to register. Before we can focus on what’s happening around us, our cell phone rings, or the television takes us to a different place and time, or it’s time to herd the kids into the car and take them to whatever the next thing is.
Mindfulness requires stillness, quiet and focus, and those things come to us in rather short supply. As frustrating as this may be for us, we find the first disciples today in pretty much the same boat. They don’t have the distractions of modern convenience, of course, but they were seeing incredible things from Jesus: miracles, healings, casting out demons, incredible words at war with the Scribes and Pharisees, walking on water, transfiguration on the mountain, all these just to name a few. Their minds had to be reeling trying to figure out what to make of it all. They hardly had time to process one thing before the next thing happened.
To them, and to us, Jesus says in the gospel today: “Pay attention.” He wants them to know that the cross stands ready for him, that he will have to suffer and die. We too, have to live in the shadow of the cross: we will have our own suffering, our own pain and sadness. None of us gets to the resurrection without the cross – Jesus didn’t, the disciples didn’t, and we won’t either. And so it would serve us well to be mindful, to pay attention, to what is happening in the present moment, to what God is doing now. If we miss that, the cross will overwhelm us and crush us in despair. But if we are mindful of God’s presence even in suffering, even in the shadow of the cross, then we will never be crushed under the weight of the cross, because we will be buoyed up by the hope of resurrection.