Romans 12: 1-2
Matthew 16: 21-27
He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me…"
During the last few Sundays, we heard about the great things that have been happening everywhere that Jesus and the disciples have gone: Jesus feeding the multitude, His walking on the water, the healing of a Canaanite woman’s daughter, and last week, Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. And from this confession, he is given the keys to the kingdom.
In today’s Gospel, Peter reacts to Jesus’ announcement of His impending suffering and death by saying he will not allow these terrible things to happen to His master. Jesus responds,"Get behind me Satan…" In the matter of a short time, Peter goes from "holder of the keys" to "mouthpiece of Satan!" from Rock to stumbling block!
It seems that Peter does not yet understand the meaning of Christ’s suffering and death. Our Lord knows that Peter’s desire to save Him would be an obstacle to His divine plan, hence the rebuke: "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Jesus goes on to say, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." Jesus makes it clear that the cross is the center of His life and says to His followers (then and now) that, if they wish to follow Him, they, too, must embrace the cross. This is the path to discipleship
Taking up the cross means that I am willing to let God change me. To change whatever is keeping me from a loving relationship with Him, and eliminating whatever obstacles are keeping me from really knowing His love for me, so that He can continue to build me up into the person I was created to be. The decision to deny self and to take the cross needs to be made before true discipleship can really begin.
Deacon Brian Clements is a retired member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.