Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There is a story about a four year old boy who even though he was blind was more alive and enthusiastic about the trees and clouds that he could not see that an older couple who thought there was something wrong with him. Even being blind he saw better than most. He picked up the deeper meaning more easily and he was grateful for it.
This week in the readings we see two men who at times don’t see that well. Jeremiah said to the Lord, you tricked me, you duped me, you seduced me. I told you I was too young to do this work as a prophet and you gave me this mission anyway. Rarely do we see this type of despair in the Bible. But does it sound familiar? I told you I was too young to marry, or it was too soon to have another child, or I was too old to go to the seminary or this disease is too much for me. We say stuff like this all the time, no? And Jeremiah had a huge reason to complain. He just told Pasher, the military leader, that he was doomed and so was his family and so was the city of Jerusalem, and all its inhabitants. The ones who survive will be deported to Babylon. And we think we have problems. Doing God’s will is not an easy going operation.
However, a few verses later Jeremiah says that he knows God is at his side like a might hero, and he cannot keep inside of him this burning fire to announce God’s word. Today they would say he was bi-polar, yet he was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. How many hundred of times a day did he say: Get behind me, Satan? Like Jesus said to Peter today, and said the same to the devil in the desert. We too ought to shoo the devil many times a day when he whispers stupidities into our ears.
Peter last week was the rock that would be the foundation of the Church and this week he is the rock that will cause others to trip; he will be a scandal. He doesn’t see how the work of the Messiah will be completely different. He physically grabs Jesus and blocks his path to Jerusalem. He thinks he knows better, so did Jeremiah at times, and so do we. Peter thought he could give his life for Christ but had to be humiliated many times in order to see the truth. He says, I will see to it…that this will never happen. Wow, who is he that he thinks he can stop the Savior from dying for us? Maybe it would have been better if Jesus waited to correct him till Pentecost or at least after the resurrection. Peter would have been more enlightened. No! The cross always is a sign of God’s love and he needed it at that moment, even if he didn’t understand it till much later. For sure he never forgot it!
Dictating to God is a universal tendency! Maybe you have not seen this yet, but that is at the bottom of every complaint we say: I would have done this differently! Peter can be the rock only if he follows behind Christ and not get ahead of him. Priests, catechists, ministers can only be effective if they see that their mission is only to wash feet, to serve those around them. There is a missionary family in a deserted place where on the whole island there is only one Catholic Church and the parents serve with a great spirit: cleaning out gutters, cutting hair, making empanadas, and many other things, not to mention taking care of their six kids. To confess Christ means to follow Christ, to not get ahead of him. He doesn’t say you are going to suffer anyway you might as well carry this cross. He leaves Peter and us free.
What a temptation it must have been for the early disciples who had to think at times: Christ could not save himself, how on earth will he save me?? To lose my life is not masochism, but to communicate life to others. To have a large family takes life from the mother and the father. They don’t try to fill themselves with affection or money or power; they give themselves, and in this they find themselves. I can have life only by being transformed, which I can only do by giving myself away.
After the resurrection Christ continually shows his glorious wounds to others! Speak of your wounds that are something truly beautiful. They show us the connection between the sufferings that love demands and the glory that is received, even in this life. These wounds of Christ reassure us that we will be transformed in Him when we carry our cross.