Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Peter gets the identity of Jesus Christ correct (Mark 8: 27-35) but he doesn’t understand that only through suffering will he will be saved. We can fall into the same trap. A friend of mine often asks what did God save you from? If he really is your savior, what did he free you from? Was it an addiction or a bad habit or an inability to love or to forgive, what was it? It is important that we know it and even speak about it to those close to us.
In Matthew’s gospel when Peter denies that Christ will have to suffer, Jesus calls him Satan, and says that he is a scandal. The original word meant that he can cause others to trip by being a rock in the road. Peter’s name was just changed from Simon to ‘rock’ and upon this rock Christ will build his Church. However, Peter, and you and I, can also be a rock that causes others to trip, that leads others to sin. If you don’t forgive your spouse for something serious, if you don’t marry in the Church, if you don’t give up drinking or who knows what else, you can make it easy for others to trip. They can think: well, it is not important to forgive or to marry since so-and-so does the same thing and he/she is in church all the time, so why should I?
After Jesus calls Peter ‘Satan’, one of the worst names he could use, he turns to the disciples, and to us, and softens his words. He says to be my disciple, to be a Christian you have to come after me and take up your cross and follow me. A Christian is one who serves, who washes the feet of the others, as Christ did. So, we need to get behind him and our tendency is to get ahead of him, to do what ‘we think’ is best. Do you get behind your husband and follow him? He is the spiritual head of the house. It doesn’t mean he dictates what is for dinner, but in the spiritual matters he is the head. Do you help him in this, or do you go your own way, or take over his responsibility?
We see in the gospel how difficult it was for Peter to get behind Jesus Christ. He is very impulsive and quick to speak and thinks he is correct, all the time. Does this sound familiar? I was on vacation recently and was the guy ‘in charge,’ which did not make it easy for the priest who was with me, who was from Africa. He had a different pace than mine and a few other things that started to drive me crazy. Finally, I asked his forgiveness for thinking myself better and he gave a very humble response. He said: I am so happy you invited me to go with you; I had no other plans. His response was very disarming, and it created communion among us for the remaining days. It wasn’t easy for him to get behind me and yet he did it very graciously.
Only with God’s help can we get behind him. The beautiful thing is that when we do, we can more easily carry our cross, and be his disciple.