There are instances when we don’t agree that some things and events are necessary for us to grow and develop. For example when we were still younger, we think school is too long, some of life’s lessons can be learned the easy way, and often question our parents and teachers why the process has to be like that.
In this Sunday’s Gospel (Mt. 16: 21-27), Peter argues with Jesus because of the Lord’s pronouncement that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. “God forbid, Lord!No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Peter was saying this out of concern and love for Jesus. But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”
When I was younger, we had a childhood friend who came to our playground crying and complaining that his father told him “you are a demon” because he committed a mistake at home. Such words we also see in television and so it must be something that some people say especially when they’re mad and angry. But Jesus saying that may be so hard to accept.
“You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
This brings to mind what Yahweh God said,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are My ways higher than your ways, My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Is. 55: 8-9)
Peter’s response is something that any human does amidst pain and suffering: fear.However, we must also take note that this is a process necessary for us to attain purification and grow in the love and grace of God. Our faith cannot fully mature if our life is only about the good times, fun and enjoyment. It is about conscience that suffering exists in the world and there are others beyond our fences that have to struggle to have food, clothing and shelter. Undergoing pain and suffering strengthen us, give us courage, and fortify our faith in God. When we start embracing pain and suffering it make us realize we can be joyful because we know we’re doing it in obedience to the will of God. We begin to share whatever we have because we know this is what the Lord wants us to do. What Jesus said had the effect of helping Peter to overcome his fear and “to accept the glorious fate and mission of Jesus.” In perspective, it is not God that causes suffering but He can use it to nurture our growth in love and intimacy with Him.
“Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
The Lord’s imminent suffering and death at the hands of the elders is God’s beautiful gift to the world. His Passion and Death is the greatest act of love ever known. For Jesus, it was the necessary thing to go through to fulfill the great plan of salvation.
The moment we think like God, we start to fully trust Him and our faith is no longer rooted according to human standards. Absolute trust in God enables us to accept pain and suffering as the only ways to follow Him. Sadly, there are sects and churches that only promote well-being and self-satisfaction as the paths to spirituality. They don’t talk about pain and suffering, instead talk about achieving happiness in this world. This is misleading and disturbing because it only talks about one’s self and temporal happiness.
“The Cross is a part of life, we cannot ignore that. The Cross is powerful. It doesn’t acknowledge your wealth, your courage, your holiness. Whoever you are, you have your own cross to carry”, says Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, in his homily today.
St. Paul exhorts in the Second Reading (Rm, 12: 1-2)
“…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.”
Let us pray that we may have the courage to answer God’s call to serve. Will you have the strength and willingness to embrace the crosses in your life? Are you willing to share in the pain and suffering of others?
“May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.”(cf.Eph. 1: 17-18)