Christianity, À la carte

We applauded Peter last Sunday when he professed in the Gospel that Jesus is the Messiah! We see a different Peter today however when he takes Jesus aside to stop Him in his Passion in Jerusalem. The intention of Peter was definitely good. He did not like Jesus to suffer! But his intention was short enough to understand the mind of God.

We also perceive a difference in the response of Jesus to Peter in the Gospel today. Last Sunday Jesus declared Peter to be “the Rock” on which he would build his Church. Yet today we heard Jesus call Peter “Satan” and an obstacle to his mission. 

Let us review the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Last Sunday Jesus declared, “Simon son of Jonah…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” And in today’s Gospel, it seems Peter is in trouble as Jesus calls him “Satan.” It was a common understanding in their time that anyone who blocks or hinders the plan of God is called Satan. Satan means an obstacle, a stone one trips over. Peter the Rock is now a stumbling stone, a hindrance to Jesus on the road to his Passion in Jerusalem. 

What has changed? Take note of this very carefully: when Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah he was acting under divine inspiration. Jesus in fact said, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” On the following event, however, when Peter took Jesus aside to try to dissuade him from his Passion, he was not under divine inspiration but acting out of his impulse and his own thinking. That difference clearly emphasizes that apart from divine inspiration we easily get lost. 

We sometimes make the same mistake. Sometimes we think we are independently the captain of our own life and we do not need divine assistance. Worse, we too think we know better than God! This common mistake often is the reason why we cannot understand why we have some cross in life. And when a cross exists, we see it solely as a suffering, curse, or even a punishment. 

There are those who profess faith in Jesus but like Peter do not want Jesus to impinge on their lifestyles. They want an à la carte Jesus. They want Jesus on their terms. They want Jesus to conform and adjust according to their human ways. 

While we profess and confess that Jesus is our God and truly the Son of the living God, we often are not ready to live the moral life he calls us to live. We dupe ourselves into thinking that we can have Jesus and at the same time live in our human sinful ways. So many things have changed from what used to be considered moral into what the present world now accepts as moral. We tell ourselves, “People do it anyway!” The greatest lie that the evil one uses in these present times is to convince us that sin does not exist and if it does,  God can easily forgive. Of course, God is merciful and compassionate, but remember God is also just! 

Let us learn and draw some inspiration from the second reading as Saint Paul says, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Reflection by Fr Michael Gazzingan