REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 5, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Matt. 16:22-23
Jesus had earlier rewarded Peter for his confident proclamation of who He is. Peter was entrusted with the responsibility of having the keys to the kingdom of heaven as well as became the foundation of the Church. In our gospel reference of today we are presented with the rebuke of the same Peter.
The words Jesus used in this rebuke may sound shocking “Get behind me, Satan!” Although Jesus rebuked Peter for trying to prevent his journey to the cross, He did not penalize him. He did not revoke the key to the kingdom or stopped calling him the “rock” of the Church.
Jesus rebuked Peter because Peter could not accept HIs teaching about His coming passion and death. Jesus told Peter and the other disciples that He would soon suffer greatly, be rejected by the chief priest, the scribes, and the elders, be killed and then rise on the third day.
Peter went from a profound proclamation of faith, to fear and a rejection of the divine plan of salvation. And for that reason, Jesus went from entrusting much authority to Peter to rebuking him for his weakness and fear.
Fear is often a paralyzing passion. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the passion of fear comes from a perceived future evil. Sorrow is the normal reaction to a present suffering such as the death of a loved one. But when the perceived suffering, or apparent evil, is something that has not yet come, then we often react with fear.
When fear is caused by something exterior and out of our control, it tempts us to feel shocked, a sense of being overwhelmed and anxiety. In the case of Peter, the thought of Jesus suffering greatly, and being killed, was more than he was able to deal with or accept. So, Peter says, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
Jesus’ rebuke of Peter was an act of true love. It was a way of shaking him free from the paralysis of fear. Jesus wanted Peter to think clearly and to face this future suffering with courage, acceptance, hope and faith. Courage provides strength. Acceptance cures anxiety. Hope produces joy. And faith is the remedy for all fear.
Reflect, today, upon that which causes you the most fear and anxiety in your life. When you look to the future, what is it that paralyzes you or at least tempts you to fear and worry? The truth is that any evil or suffering that you foresee has the potential to bring forth the greatest good in your life. Your natural human mind cannot discern this. We must strive to think as God, not as humans, as Jesus says. Try to look at anything that causes you anxiety through the eyes of God alone. Trust that, in faith, all can be used by God for good. Do not doubt but believe and God will begin to bestow upon you the many virtues you need to move forward with peace, courage, and confidence.
Lord, You faced the evil You endured with the utmost courage and love. You never gave in to fear but pressed on, fulfilling the Father’s will. Give me the grace I need to share in Your strength so as to overcome all that tempts me to fear. I love You, my Lord. May I rely upon You for all things. Jesus, I trust in You.