Again, in this week’s Gospel, we see St. Peter at his best and his not so good. It is also a prime of example of why many of us – including myself – have such a great connection to St. Peter. What is that connection? It is that he is so HUMAN!
St. Peter proclaims Jesus as the Christ – the Messiah – the Anointed One. However, in a few verses that follow his proclamation we have St. Peter rebuking Jesus. The Oxford Dictionary defines a rebuke as sharp criticism or disapproval of another due to their actions or behavior. St. Peter had so much faith in who Jesus was, yet he did not approve of Jesus’ teachings about how he was to suffer, be killed, and then rise again. Was it too much for St. Peter and the other disciples to comprehend? Was it St. Peter’s way of expressing, like many other Jews, the desire to have a strong military-oriented Messiah, or at best one that could not possibly endure such a fate as Jesus taught? Perhaps it was just not the way St. Peter wanted to the plan to play out.
This is where I and many others find a connection to St. Peter or to this specific Gospel reading. I have complete faith in Jesus, in who is, and in my relationship with Him. However, I can describe numerous times when I questioned what was happening in my life, and it still occasionally happens today. I would ask or say:
Why did You let this happen?
Guess it wasn’t meant to be.
What more do I have to do?
It would have been a lot easier if You had only…
I wanted to direct the outcomes of my prayers. I wanted everything to be all flowers and butterflies simply because “I believe in You, Jesus!”. I accepted that I had to take up my cross. No problems there. However, I wanted to lead Jesus and not follow Him. I wanted to revel in the grace of being created in His image, but not in His sufferings. Like St. Peter, I was thinking as a human being, and not thinking as God wanted me to think. YET, it is in St. Peter we have the best example of someone who learned from their mistakes and misunderstandings. Afterall, Jesus called him to be the foundation, the rock, upon which His church was built (Mathew 16:18).
How do we move toward a God-think way of life? Jesus tells us to “deny” ourselves. I equate this to surrendering ourselves completely to Him – mind, body, and soul. I love quick little prayers that powerfully get to heart of the matter I want to take to God. In the case of surrendering ourselves to Christ, Deacon Roy shared this prayer at a recent Men of ACTS meeting. It came at a time that I was dealing with great stress at work. I pray it helps you as it helps me:
I surrender to you all that I am,
all that I have. Teach me your
Holy Will and give me the grace to carry it out this and
every day of my life. Amen.
Diaconate Candidate 2024