Jesus is in dialogue with his disciples on two crucial matters. His question is, “Who do you say that I am?”
The Second matter is what is Jesus’ destiny and purpose on earth.
Again Peter, the leader of the disciples, wades forcefully into both questions. In his efforts to understand the true identity of Jesus, Peter listens to a personal inspiration from the Father. Not only does he listen but he understands the meaning of the Father. To the question directed to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers boldly. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” He listens to the Father and he understood because his heart was open. Jesus identifies Peter as blessed because of the insight he had and his acceptance of it.
God prefers to use subtlety when speaking to our hearts and we need to have selfless openness in order to comprehend the message. When we pray are we open to answers we would not like?
After jesus informs all of the disciples that Peter’s response is correct he begins to relate what dire events will take place in his near future. There will be sufferings, execution and then a rising. Again Peter hears the words, but this time does not like their meaning. Out of misdirected friendship and love for Jesus, he encourages Jesus to reject the thoughts he just expressed. Peter did not stop to think that only truth ever comes from Jesus’ mouth and so lightening and thunder fall on this likable, spontaneous disciple and he is equated with Satan. We all know the ache of the heart that comes from criticism when we thought we were doing something right. Peter suffered that ache, but in that experience he learned how important it is to reflect and try to discern God’s will, especially in confusing circumstances.
This is the lesson we can take from Jesus’ words. When a moral teaching of Jesus seem harsh, can I reach out for the deeper and broader divine understanding? Do I ask the Lord for help to see beyond my own life experience and understanding to the grace of acceptance of the divine plan? Salvation came through Jesus, self-surrender.
- Fr. Patrick Geinzer, C.P.