1. We need to understand what went before to make the meaning out of this gospel passage. The famous Transfiguration takes place on the Mountain and Jesus comes down with His three prominent disciples. Down there, there is a big crowd gathered and a man with his son affected by epilepsy waits for Jesus with frustration. The disciples tried casting out the demon which was believed to be real cause of the disease. But they could not succeed in exorcism. Jesus rebukes them all for their lack of faith and heals the boy.
2. This is when, the crowd marvels at His power. The whole crowd looked for the Messiah to take the reins of power against their oppressors Romans. But Jesus talks something out of place here and puts off the disciples. They did not want to hear about the death of the Messiah here but Jesus chose to speak about His death here.
3. Jesus reminds His disciples constantly about his Death. Reminder actually has a salvific role. We as human beings tend to forget the purpose for which we are here on earth. We need constant reminder of the goal of our existence. Reminders put us in perspective. Reminder initiates the great cause of renewal. The Retreats we make, the examination of conscience we do are some of the examples of reminders. Jesus after every big even reminds the disciples not to lose their track.
4. When we are in the peak of glory or when we are in a happy situation, we generally do not talk about death. We will never tolerate someone who speaks about death in a marriage function or any other happy events. It actually creates discomfort and irritation and this is what Jesus does after every major event.
5. Jesus knows the purpose for which he took the human flesh and came to the earth. Most often we do not know the purpose of our living. We think that we are living for our own cause and just give some space to God in our lives. We should not forget that we are living here not for our purpose but for the purpose of God. (From the book The Purpose Driven Life) Jesus knows why He came to the world, not to seek human glory but to die on the cross to reconcile humanity with God.
I remember the exercise we, some Salesians, under the leadership of Fr. Antony Christy SDB, conducted in the Youth Pasch last year in Ennore (Chennai). We made a coffin and placed it in a separate place and set the whole place like a funeral house. There were writhes, candles, incense, garland etc. We did not say anything to the youngster but took them one by one and made them to lie in the coffin for some time. It was a dark place and in front we placed a blackboard in which we wrote this question “If you were to die today, would you be happy for the life you have lived so far? One by one they were brought and at the end of this scaring session, all of them unanimously said that they got a new orientation towards their life. Our life is project which we are supposed to submit to the Lord on the day of our death. Some of us might have started doing our project well, while others might be waiting for the last minute. But the problem is, we are not sure of the date of our submission and therefore it is better to keep working on our projects everyday and be prepared to submit when it is asked by the Lord.