Summary: In this reflection, we reflect on how we move from the confusion of Peter to the focus of Jesus, from the cross of our lives to the crown of our heavenly lives by following Christ Jesus with our conduct in our lives on this earth.
No Cross, No Crown (Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Matthew 16: 21-27.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Let us read the Word of God for this Sunday. The text is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 16:21-27):
“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples
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.
Then Peter took him 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.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “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? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.”
In this reflection, we reflect on how we move from the confusion of Peter to the focus of Jesus, from the cross of our lives to the crown of our heavenly lives by following Christ Jesus with our conduct in our lives on this earth.
1. Peter, the Confused
Last Sunday we reflected from the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 16:13-20), that Simon Peter recognised Jesus and confessed to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
The same Peter, who recognised and confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, had a Popular Jewish belief in the time of Jesus that expected a Messiah who would bring instant glory to Israel in terms of military success, wealth and prosperity. The disciples too shared this popular belief.
So, when Peter heard Jesus announce that he must first endure the cross, he figured that Jesus must have made a mistake. So, immediately Peter said to Jesus in private: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
What was Jesus’ reply?
Jesus 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.”
The confession of Peter, Jesus to be the Messiah, earned Jesus’ recognition as ‘Rock.’ In other words, the demonstration of faith earned him the name Peter, ‘Rock’ and the incident was a highpoint in the development of the mission of Jesus.
Jesus thought that the disciples understood his mission rightly, so Jesus was confident to reveal about his passion, death, and resurrection.
Peter was confused between two beliefs.
The first one is Peter’s popular belief including the other Israelites that Jesus, the military messiah, would liberate them from the Roman rule.
But it was not true. Jesus did not come on a horse. He came on a donkey. Peter had a wrong belief system about the messiah.
Peter imagined that Jesus, the Messiah was a King, who would fight against the Roman rule to liberate the Israelite and to establish the kingdom of Israel. Peter firmly believed it. This was the way he was taught from his birth. He was not wrong.
The second one was not in Peter’s belief system. Peter never thought that Jesus, the Messiah, came to the world for the salvation of humanity and to establish the kingdom of love. Jesus, the Messiah was a new revelation for Peter.
Peter could not accept Jesus, the Messiah, who would suffer, die and rise to give life for all.
Peter strongly believed that Jesus would establish the kingdom of power and authority without any struggle and pain, because he was taken up by the miracles after miracles performed by Jesus, the Messiah.
Jesus openly broke the disciples’ belief system by saying about his suffering, death and resurrection.
It was a new start for the disciples to understand who the Messiah is, not for Israel alone but for whole humanity.
Peter moved from the confused to understanding.
Now, Peter understood what Jesus meant by when Jesus replied to Peter (Matthew 16:17-19):
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but my heavenly Father.
And so, I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;