Sunday 3 September 2023
Matt 16:21-27

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you’. But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things’”.
(Matt 16:21-23)

Jesus feels that the time has come, where His own followers have faith and trust Him. Because of this, He begins to speak to them of “needing” to go to Jerusalem and, there, to be rejected, suffer… and be killed. To tell the truth, Jesus concludes this conversation by also speaking of His resurrection after three days, but Peter doesn’t even listen long enough to hear this. As soon as he hears talk of rejection and suffering to the point of death he shuts off, no longer able to take anything else in. He goes haywire, thinking that Jesus had had a nightmare the night before. He even pulls Jesus aside to tell Him off. It is certain that Peter recognised Jesus as the Messiah. However, it is seriously doubtful that he understood what Jesus being Messiah actually meant!

Jesus’ reaction is pointed and strong: “Get behind me!”. He makes it clear to Peter, ‘don’t set yourself up as teacher; follow me, because you still have a lot to learn! Continue being a disciple. Don’t presume that you know and understand’. Jesus then continues with that awful name – Satan – because Peter wasn’t thinking according to God’s thoughts but with human thoughts. Here Jesus equates two things: thinking according to man, according to the mentality of this world, can coincide with the mentality of Satan (literally meaning the Accuser or the Adversary)

Today, more than ever, we can be deaf to any discussion of suffering or of sacrifice. We can so easily run away. We want everything and we want it immediately. But this is not the Gospel! The Gospel gives us much more than we could ever hope for or imagine, but it is both a gift and a conquest.

Like Peter, even if we have been enlightened or inspired, we still run the risk of adapting ourselves to the mentality of this world. The Lord wants us to recognise that He is the Messiah, but also to understand what type of Messiah He is.

In the Bible we find the true face of God, who became man in order to raise the human condition. We find this true face in Jesus, His face suffering and bloodied for the sake of Love.

The act of daily reading of the Word of God, and putting it in to practice, leaves the imprint of the icon of the true Messiah on our hearts.

Fr. Giuseppe