Reflection for Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
How would you feel if someone you loved very much said to you and seemed to really mean it, ” you devil, you Satan?” You would be hurt and probably feel that it marked the end of your friendship. Jesus does this today to his friend Peter, but, in his day, to call someone Satan did not have the same emotional impact that it has today. The word Satan really means adversary – someone who is not seeking your best interest, someone who may not want you to win. In the time of Christ, the devil was not someone seeking your eternal damnation, for most people in Christ’s time did not believe in any life after death, eternal damnation, or eternal bliss in heaven. Today we believe in these truths because it was Christ who told us about them.
No, Christ calling Peter “Satan ” was not as insulting , nor as violent an attack on him, as it would be if your best friend called you that today. Peter was trying to keep Jesus out of trouble. He knew that if Christ went up to Jerusalem to celebrate The Holy Days of Passover, that the Pharisees would try to harm him, even kill him. As a friend, Peter did not want this to happen to Christ. But Christ knew that his death and resurrection was part of God’s plan for him and would ultimately be of value, not only for Christ but for all of us.
This is indeed the core mystery of the life and death and resurrection of Christ. We will never in this life understand completely the why of this mystery. What we can and do understand is; the passion and death of Jesus Christ tells us that God loves each of us enough to die for us. It is knowledge that is the basis of our faith and our hope of forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. It is all w know and all we really need to know.
The wisdom of God in Christ tells us not to be afraid of death for it is the passageway to eternal life. Jesus was truly human. Like ball of us he dreaded death but he knew and understood that God , his Father, was asking him to give up his life, to sacrifice himself so that we – all people- would see the depths of God’s love for us.
It took courage and faith for Christ to go up to Jerusalem . There will be times in our lives when those who love us, eve as Peter loved Christ, will try to turn us from doing something painful that we know God wants us to do. Even as Christ, we, too, must struggle for the courage and faith to make sacrifices that life asks of us.
In today’s Gospel Christ says it so perfectly – if you wish to come after me, you must deny your very self, take up your cross, and follow in my steps.
May God bless you
Your brother in Christ