Jesus often taught in parables, but in today's Gospel he speaks quite plainly; even brutally so.
First, he outlines with little fanfare his imminent Passion:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."
As if this matter-of-fact statement weren't explosive enough, he then makes crystal clear what must happen in order for one to attain salvation:
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me."
What does this mean, to "deny (one)self"? From other instances in which Jesus calls individuals, we can reason that this means any and all of the following: walk away from the life you have built for yourself; abandon your possessions and any attachment to them; shed your preconceived notions about what is right and just.
Essentially, Jesus' call is to peel off the very identity crafted by one's own ego and propped up by society. (Serrans know this is the very call to which priests and religious respond in a most extraordinary way.)
Here, Jesus draws the line between the corporeal and temporal experience and the burdens this life imposes upon the sovereign soul, which lives beyond the physical body it inhabits, and moves apart from the desires of others who wish to control that body.
If we see these as weights that can and often do inhibit the soul's freedom to know and encounter Jesus, it will not be hard to see that only by unburdening ourselves of the "stuff" of this life can we have the strength to take up the cross of being a living example of the Truth for ourselves and others - no matter what temporary and worldly hardship it brings.