September 12, 2021
Jesus’ words to Peter are severe. He needs to prepare Peter for the great trial that is coming. And He wants to show us today how to prepare for our challenges.
- Jesus tries to show the apostles how they can be triumphant with a supernatural response so that they can be strong and faithful during their crisis of the cross in which there will be so much evil.
- One of Peter’s faults and one of our faults is the lack of humility. Peter didn’t have the grace that God was offering him because he wasn’t humble or trusting enough.
- Peter was trying to save Jesus from His suffering. Satan was also trying to convince Jesus not to give His life for Peter and us.
- Jesus is revealing to us that hard moments in life and feelings of abandonment from God are actually great moments and turning points that can actually be the great passage from death to a new life.
- We are to be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying and not reject it and to have humility to listen to the Holy Spirit.
- We are to trust because no matter how bad the distraction, the devastation, the trials and the tribulations are, God’s grace is greater.
When Jesus is telling Peter and the disciples what is going to happen, Peter rebukes Jesus. He is doing it because he loves Jesus. But he doesn’t realize that this battle is the battle against forces of hell, which no human strategy can overcome. Peter has a lack of humility and trust and is going to need Divine Grace to be triumphant in this. So, that’s when Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan.”
To overcome the problems of our world, the first thing is to be open, to be humbly open to what Jesus says and then to trust Jesus, because if we trust, no matter how bad the distraction, the devastation, the trial, the tribulation that we’re facing is, God’s grace is greater.
And does Jesus also want to prepare us for what is coming in the future, a future that only He knows? We have a lot of concerns maybe or hopes for the future expectations. But none of us know, only Jesus knows. And so, does He want to tell us also, what is coming? When He was speaking to the apostles, He was telling them of something, which would be devastating, so far from what they imagined. But it would ultimately be life changing for them and bring about a change, a benefit that they couldn’t even imagine. And so, He’s telling them, how to be triumphant at that moment of trial, and He’s telling you, how to be triumphant in the trials that are coming. But it depends on our response and so, that’s what we want to learn from this. So, He’s talking to them and He’s talking to us about a crisis that is coming. For them, it’s the crisis of the cross, in which there’ll be so much evil and the devil, it won’t just be human evil, it’ll be hell itself, which is attacking. And there’ll be so much anger, so much hatred, so much desire for revenge, and so much panic, so much fear, so much anxiety. And there’ll be so much human, and even diabolical response. And yet, this is a critical moment that they’re going to be living. And He’s trying to show them how they can be triumphant with a supernatural response, so that they can be strong and faithful at that moment. So, He’s showing them what they can do to be triumphant in that moment. Because there are trials that we can’t avoid. But by our response, we can even make them much worse than they have to be. And we humans do that all the time. We take a hard situation, and we make it much worse, much worse than God ever wanted it to be. Or we can take a hard situation, and by listening to God, not make it worse, but have the grace to make it through, to be triumphant. And so, that’s what this Gospel is about. And so, Jesus begins to speak to the apostles, words whichwere very shocking to them about what is going to happen, what is going to happen to Him. Sometimes the words of Jesus are very mysterious and very symbolic. But that’s not the case here. He says very clearly, what’s going to happen. He’s not using symbolic, mysterious language, you’re saying very clearly what’s going to happen. And the gospel even says, “He said this plainly,” plainly. And all that He said, He repeats, the gospel shows us, Jesus repeating this to them. But they don’t understand. Not because it’s hard to understand, but because it’s hard to accept. That is, the words of Jesus weren’t hard to understand what He meant, but they didn’t want to hear them. They didn’t want to accept them. Does that happen to us? That God is trying to tell us something and we don’t want to hear it? But by not hearing it, we don’t avoid the problem. We make it worse. Let me say that again. When we try to not hear God’s warning, we don’t avoid the problem, we make it much worse, and we’re not ready for it. So well, there are two parts of what Jesus was saying and each one was a problem. He was talking about what He was going to suffer, and they didn’t want to hear that, they didn’t want to accept that. But then He said He was going to rise, but they had a hard time believing that. And so, it was if they weren’t hearing, does that happen to us? These very words of Jesus, how many times have we heard them? And when we experience it in our own lives, we say what’s going on? And we respond often with a way which is very human. And so, we can say, why aren’t these apostles listening? We do the same thing when it happens to us. So, Peter’s response, good old Peter, Peter, who is so frank, so open, so positive. And you know, the striking thing is that the Gospel of Mark, Mark was a disciple of Peter. So according to tradition, the Gospel that Mark writes, is the Gospel that Peter was preaching. So, it’s Peter, in his honesty, and his humility, who’s telling what happened. He’s not hiding it. He’s saying very clearly, and it’s helpful for Peter, because I think we see ourselves in Peter. So, this is for us. So, how does Peter respond when the Lord says He is going to suffer? Peter loves the Lord, and his response is a very normal human response. It’s a loving response. He loves Jesus. He loves Jesus, but his love is very, very human. Like I said, well, that’s right because that’s what we are. Right? We’re humans. But that’s a problem, Peter’s response, because God is calling Peter and God is calling you to a mission that is not just human, but it’s divine. Poor little human you. God is calling you to a divine mission. So, it’s way beyond what you can do. So just give up, right? Just give up now. Right? That’s my message. Just give up, that’s one response, just give up. Or we can accept His grace because grace permits us, the Holy Spirit permits us to do what we can’t do, human to do what is divine. So, what does that mean? Here, Peter is being called to follow Jesus through the cross, and for that he needs not his human. His human abilities won’t be enough. He needs divine grace. And that’s what Jesus is offering. But Peter thinks he’s more realistic than Jesus. He thinks he’s more practical than Jesus. Jesus has some beautiful, idealistic ideas, He’s all love and mercy and all that, but the world is not like that. So, Peter wants to be more realistic. So, he rebukes Jesus. He is doing it because he loves Jesus. But is he picking Jesus? Peter thinks he’s more realistic than Jesus. But he doesn’t realize that this battle is the battle against forces of hell, which no human strategy can overcome. The event will be happening on Earth. It’s an event right there in Jerusalem. But it’s an event where there’s powers of hell, and no human abilities will be ever able to overcome those. Peter is going to need Divine Grace to be triumphant in this. So, one of Peters faults, and one of our faults, is a lack of humility. Peter, there’s too much pride. He thinks he knows better than the Lord, and as always, there’s also a lack of trust. He doesn’t trust Jesus. He loves Him. He’s just said that he believes He’s the Christ. But he still doesn’t completely trust what Jesus is calling him to. So again, what are the consequences of not listening to Jesus? Peter doesn’t avoid the problem; he makes it worse. We don’t listen to God, we don’t avoid the problem, we make it worse. Peter was not prepared and so he makes it worse. So, things are hard enough. Let’s not make it worse. Peter did not have the grace that God was offering him because he wasn’t humble, and he wasn’t trusting enough. He was a good person, but he wasn’t humble, and he wasn’t trusting. So how does he do? He says respond. Poor Peter. Sorry, listen, but he doesn’t say that. There’s no place in Scripture, when the gospel, Jesus is as harsh with the apostles, as he is at this moment, even when they failed Him at the cross, He is not as harsh. It’s at this moment when Peters trying to save Jesus from His suffering. You’re good. Thank you, sir. Well, so thank you, Peter, I appreciate your efforts. But no, Jesus doesn’t say that. He says, “Get behind me satan. You are not thinking as God does. But as man does.” Well, yeah, that’s what we are men, women. So that’s what we do. But that’s not enough. So, Jesus wanted something beyond what we normally do. So, when Peter is trying to save Jesus from suffering, that’s Jesus most violent reaction. “Get behind Me, satan.” That’s what satan was trying to do, to try to convince Jesus not to go through with this, not to give His life for Peter and for us. So that’s what Jesus responding to the voice which is trying to keep Him from the sacrifice, which will save souls, and which is the sacrifice, the path which looks like a path of defeat, but which is the path of ultimate eternal victory. But this is not just for Peter, Jesus says really clearly that this is not just for Peter, because it says, “He called to Him the multitude,” so everybody else with His disciples and said, “If any man,” so it’s not just for Peter, it’s not just for the apostles, “anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Me.” So, you are being called to follow Jesus, that is to walk the path that He walked. So, He’s telling us what on that path? He says it really clearly, He says, “For whoever would save his life”, and saving his life is so as almost all the worldly advice that we give, about how to be successful, and how to be happy in the world, so much of that is what Jesus saying, “whoever would save his life, will lose it.” So, so much of what we work for humanly, it’s actually working to lose our life, our soul, but Jesus says, “but whoever loses his life, for my sake, and the Gospels will save it.” So, Jesus, is showing us a completely different way, from human advice, worldly success, Jesus says if you follow the path of worldly success, you will lose your life. “If you lose your life, for my sake, and for the Gospel, you will save it.” So, Jesus is flipping the wisdom of St. Paul calls the wisdom of the world completely over. He says that wisdom of the world is actually a path to hell. So, these are very strong words of Jesus. So, we’re called, you’re called to follow Jesus, and following Jesus is the path and of the Paschal Mystery. I’m always saying that St. John Paul was always talking about Pascal Mystery, because what’s the Pascal Mystery? It’s precisely this passage from suffering and death, to resurrection, and glory and triumph. So, in our life, when we experienced, we’re always surprised what’s going on. How could God do this to me? But He said very clearly, this is what happens when we follow Him. I’m not just talking to you, I’m talking to me. Because I, we aren’t, we’re all surprised when it happens. But what Jesus is revealing is that those hard moments in your life where it seemed like God has abandoned you, and seemed like they don’t have any meaning, are actually, those critical moments, those great moments, which are the moments, which can be the great turning points, the moment would seem just destruction and devastation, and ruin and the end, but can actually be the great passage from death to a new life. So, He’s helping us realize that in those moments, He wants us to realize that God hasn’t abandoned us, even though we feel abandoned. So, what’s going on in our Church today to the crisis, the terrible crisis that our Church is in, should not surprise us? Because the Church also is called as the Mystical Body of Jesus, to follow the path of Jesus, which is the Pascal Mystery, the path of suffering, and betrayal, and attack, and what seems to be death, destruction. But that is the Church’s path, to follow Jesus to His triumph, to His resurrection. So, we’re facing extreme challenges today. But times of extreme challenge, like the cross, are also times of extreme opportunity, of extreme potential. And we’re living times you’ve been chosen for these times, of extreme potential. Our human response won’t work. But the Holy Spirit is speaking to us, in so many ways through Scripture, to the signs of the times. And there’s so many signs of the times right now, the very crisis of the Church is a sign of the time, the Holy Spirit speaking to us through prophetic messages, through prayer, through so many different ways, speaking to us, to prepare us for what is coming. And so, what can we do practically? It’s very simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. First of all, listen to what He’s saying. Last Sunday, we had the scripture Ephphatha, be open, be open, St. Peter’s not open in this point. He’s closed, he won’t hear what Jesus said, not just St. Peter, the others too. So, the first step, very simple, is to be open, to be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying, not reject it, even though we don’t want to hear it, to be open, to have the humility, to listen to the Holy Spirit, even if we don’t understand it. If we don’t, if we don’t want to want to hear it, to be open. And then that’s the first thing to be open, to be humbly open. And then to trust, to trust. Because if we trust, no matter how bad the distraction, the devastation, the trial, the tribulation that we’re facing is, God’s grace is greater. And we have the great example of Mary, at the cross, no one was suffering as much as she was, but because she had listened to Jesus, because she had not done like the apostles and close their ears to what He was saying. She didn’t want to hear those words, either, but she listened, and she trusted in Him. And so, the cross was very hard for her, but she was triumphant, she was strong, she was faithful. She was triumphant. And much faster than Peter, she rebounded because she didn’t have the weight of all the guilt that Peter carried. And so, she is an example of how to make it through by listening to the words of Jesus, and trust in Him. It doesn’t mean that the trials are not very, very painful. But it means that His grace, and she had His grace, which led her through, and she triumphed. So, these are very difficult times that we’re living right now. So, we need to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, so that we do not lose heart, so that we’re prepared, so that you also in these great tribulations, can come through with the grace of God, triumphant, transformed, by God’s grace. He will rise. Jesus was saying to us, He says, listen, He is the victor, He is the Lamb of God who has sacrificed but now as the Book of Revelations says, that He is the victorious Lamb of God, who is triumphant, the victor. Jesus, we trust in you. Amen.