Get Behind Me, Peter!  A Reflection for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Santa Rita Abbey

Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’ Mk 8:32-34.

Jesus, you speak the deepest, most sublime and difficult things to us as if we can understand it, penetrate its depths and live it with ease. Today’s Gospel is a case in point. After eliciting from Peter his confession of faith in who you are, you revealed your mission as the Son of Man: you must suffer greatly, be killed and rise after three days. Without hesitation, Peter let you have it with a rebuke. You, in turn, rebuke Peter for not thinking as God does, but only as a human being. It seems only natural, Jesus, that he would think as a human. How else could he think? Ah, but you know the answer to that…

Maybe your rebuke was really an invitation. An invitation to enter the mind of God. You tell us that whoever wishes to follow you must deny themselves, take up their cross and walk after you, and that we must lose our life in order to save it. This is way beyond what our minds are equipped to handle! And therein lies the invitation. Our minds were never meant to grasp it! Through your Spirit we enter into YOUR mind and your plan for each human being. Without entering there, we walk painfully through life and its many trials. But your Spirit embraces us and carries us into the mind of God where, through faith, we journey into mystery if we will but enter. The mystery of death and resurrection to which we are all called and to which you invite us in today’s Gospel.

On the face of it, it seems impenetrable, Jesus. And so you show us the way that you have marked out for us in order to grasp that it is a gift and it is transformation to which you beckon. The plain, sometimes scruffy-looking seed that was buried in the dark soil is now the glorious grass waving in the sunlight. So it is with us. The only way the seed came to know its glory was to let go of the familiar and enter the darkness of the soil until one day the warmth and light of the sun would call it forth. Jesus, it isn’t easy to enter with you into the darkness where we lose all control, but if your Spirit enfolds us, your transforming love calls forth life from the seed, and we leave the husk behind to begin to grow into the person and the gift we are called to be. We learn to live in the mind of God through the working of the Spirit and listening with the ear of our heart. Help us to yield ourselves to you in all the ways your transforming love leads us – from death to resurrection.