Last Sunday Peter made a brilliant profession of faith in Jesus as Messiah, son of the living God but now, not long after, Jesus reprimands him: “Get behind me Satan!” Isn’t it just surprising how things can turn so fast! Let’s journey together and see how this event can nourish our relationship with Jesus and those around us.
Bible Readings Jeremiah 20: 7-9 Psalm 63: 2-6, 8-9 Romans 12: 1-2 Matthew 16: 21-27
Image of heritage
I always associate getting married to someone with the image of accepting a heritage. You may have a general idea of what you are inheriting, yet, you need time to discover it and to know it in details. Certainly you find out things that will delight you but also those that will leave your mouth open in dismay –ah, I never knew! A relation with someone is a bit like that too.
No matter how open partners can be during their long time of courtship it would be an illusion to think that one will easily arrive at a point to say I know the other thoroughly well. It’s not necessarily because one hides something from the other but rather that getting to know another person is life-journey homework. For that reason, I esteem, merely knowing the other will not be a sufficient foundation for a marriage relationship; you need to be seduced by the person. Once you are in love with someone you stand a better chance of embracing him as he is; both his qualities and his failings. You will likely be shocked by certain things however you will find the strength to go on, thanks to the bond of love that exists between you. It’s a bit like Jeremiah in the First Reading and Peter in the Gospel.
Peter under shock
In last Sunday’s Gospel Peter confessed Jesus as: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus praised him for such privileged revelations and told him, you are Peter, rock; and on this rock I will build my church. I imagine such beautiful profession of faith was however tainted by what Peter and his contemporaries expected of a Messiah: a powerful, political liberator. No wonder, when Jesus speaks of the passion and death; Peter just can’t stomach it. So he takes Jesus aside and tells him: “God forbid it…This must never happen to you.” Apparently, Peter is proud to profess his faith and follow the glorious and powerful Messiah but embracing a suffering Messiah poses a little problem. Yet, the passion, death and resurrection constitute together a single package of the same “heritage”, hence, the need to follow the Messiah both in his suffering and his glory.
Challenge of full acceptance
This touches also our attachment to God. Probably, we too are at easy with God as Lord of armies, powerful enough to crush all that threatens our life. We want a God of miracles who will procure for our needs at the press of the button. Yet, how much are we ready to welcome the same God who manifests himself in the humble, poor and sick people? It’s the same in our relations with others.
Am I not proud to have a healthy, beautiful wife? Or am I not proud to have a handsome and accomplished husband? Am I not proud to have for spouse someone with qualities admired by everyone? But how much ready am I to take in also her fragility and accept her fully as she is? That’s why it’s necessary to be seduced –to be truly in love.
When you are under charm
Jesus does not promise an easy ride for those who want to follow him. The glory of the resurrection will come only after his passion and death. So, in order to be able to go till the end we might need, like Jeremiah, to have our heart seduced. It’s only when we are really in love with the Lord that we may find, with his grace, sufficient energy to carry on even when we meet things on our way that are hard to swallow. Similarly, you may meet challenges in a relationship but if you are bonded in love with someone you will always have the strength to carry on.
My thoughts go to…
This Gospel makes me think of persons in relationships who may be under shock because of what they have just discovered about their colleague, friend or partner; something they never could imagine. Unfortunately, questions and doubts that arise may lead to separation or divorce. But it can also be a moment to explain and to clarify things, hence; an occasion to renew and consolidate their relationships. I pray that such person may find new strength that comes from true love in order to continue together reconciled and assured in their relationships. Indeed, when you are under the charm of love you will always find the solution of love to whatever challenges that may arise in your relationship –it’s not Satan who takes the lead but love.
“Get behind me, Satan!”
It’s astonishing to see how Peter quickly changes from the solid rock on which Jesus wants to build his church to a stumbling block or Satan? What does that mean?
It’s not that Peter has suddenly become a bad person, meriting to be called Satan. In fact, Satan in this case simply means a person or a thing that acts as obstacle, making you stumble or blocking you from advancing. Jesus sees in what Peter proposes to him something that comes not from God but human desire. It means that legitimate human desires and needs can be a block in our way. That’s why we need to discern in life in order to know: what helps me and what does not help me to advance in my life projects?
Jesus tells Peter to get behind him. Peter is only a disciple; he should be behind and follow the footsteps of his master. Like Peter we often want to interchange roles and positions; we want to take a lead. This is manifested even in our prayer when we want to tell God what he should do. There’s a temptation to fashion a God of our own image: a mighty God who ought to wield his power according to our needs. We take the front position and reduce God to our follower.
Invitation of Jesus
Jesus is calling us to a different relationship. It’s about the readiness to abandon our well calculated, strategic plans; and simply say, God, here I’m –lead me. And when you are under charm of the Lord you will surpass every obstacle. You will make it.
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