Gospel Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
"God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you."
He turned and said to Peter,
"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct."
+Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them, the fire of your love. Amen
"He turned and said to Peter; "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." I Lord? an obstacle to you Lord? How? (We ask Jesus this question) How am I 'in your way' Lord ? How is my thinking not 'of you'? How am I obstructing your Will from being done? And Jesus answers Peter (and us): "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." This then becomes an obstacle: When we react and respond without inviting and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and form our minds and hearts on Jesus Christ, we run the risk of thinking way too humanly. Peter saw the suffering coming to Jesus and he wanted to stop it, to overt it, to 'wipe it out' before it came. How human is that to want to stop the progression of a perceived suffering towards the direction of someone we love? When was the last time you saw 'suffering' coming closer to someone you love? What was your response? Did you try to alleviate it or drive it away? Or did you try to 'kill off the messenger' who was bringing it towards them? Maybe this is something of what Peter is passing through as he listens to Jesus speak of the suffering that will soon come. When we see suffering coming towards those we love, we suffer too and so we try at times to keep suffering/the cross 'at bay.' Perhaps this is partially what Peter is trying to do. There is a name for this: CONTROL. We try to control suffering. Why? Quite often because of Fear.
The image that comes into my mind, is this, the reigns on a horse. Perhaps Peter is trying to stop Jesus from going in the direction of more suffering, maybe he is trying to control things a little and what does our Lord say? "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." When we want to step in and control things, we 'get in the way' of the Divine Action, we 'get in the way' of God's will unfolding. Does this mean, allow those we love to suffer? We do of course what we can but Sometimes it does mean to 'let it unfold.' It means to suffer with them when something is meant to be accepted. It means opening our hearts to God's Spirit in times of suffering, when we see it coming our way, or in the direction of those we love. It means inviting the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, to help us put on the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, that we may not miss what God is doing in and through life's sufferings, asking him to help us remain patient and open to the Father's good plan, human hearts find hard to comprehend. How much more peace we would all have, if we allowed God's will to be done moment by moment, through life's little and big sufferings, just saying "yes Lord, let your will be done." In the Divine Office, there is a beautiful antiphon: "You need patience to do God's will." No truer words. If patience is nothing else than the willingness to suffer, then Peter needs patience and we need patience to do God's will, to allow God's Will to be done in me and in those I love. Control is the obstacle, to Jesus what is the opposite of control? Abandonment! Abandonment to the Father's Will. It is letting God be God, and it is loving His hand in all things, whether I understand it or not at the moment, it is trusting and receiving, sometimes not understanding, but still allowing God's Will to be done. Knowing and believing in my heart, that after "ever Good Friday is an Easter Sunday" (Mother Teresa).
Sr. Lucia once shared with us in community, how her Dad hatched pheasants in their basement. One day when all the eggs were in the incubator and the little pheasants were trying to break open their shells and come out, one was having difficulty. The others pecked their way out of their shell, but one was straining but had made almost no progress, with only a little crack in its shell. Her dad picked up the little egg to help it. Sister expected him to crack off the shell but instead he only made the tiny crack a little wider and set it back in the incubator. Alarmed that he could have easily helped it more she asked him why he didn't remove the shell completely. He told her, that the tiny birds need the work of getting out to build up their muscles so that they survive. To "help" the chick by breaking the shell completely would have hurt the bird. This lesson never left sister's mind of how necessary is the struggle.
When I was little, my Mom had sacristy duty in our Catholic parish school, St. Charles in Hartland Wisconsin. She worked this job to help pay for our Catholic education. I can remember helping her one Friday when we had no school, I polished the candlesticks and a very simple prayer came on my heart while I was polishing those stands, close to the Tabernacle and I pray it even to this day during the consecration in the Mass. "Lord, purify me through life's sufferings, and in life's sufferings teach me to love." It has helped me a lot.
Let us ponder then this question: If, 'to be an obstacle is to think as human beings do" then, to not be an obstacle is "to think as God does, which is Wisdom." What area of my life, do I need to hand over to God? Where do I try to control? Where do I lack freedom? Peace? What does "LOVE" look like in the situation I find myself in right now?
Prayer: Lord give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne. Let me see things from your perspective, from the glimpse of Eternity. Amen