Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 16: 21-27
For the second Sunday in succession, Peter is the central point for our reflection. Surprisingly Jesus calls him Satan. A few sentences earlier we see Peter being renamed and called the rock upon which Jesus would build His church. Almost instantly the table got turned around and Peter rendered himself the mouthpiece of Satan. All because he tried to distract Jesus from the cross. We can learn two important lessons from this passage:
- The cross is central to our salvation, and
- A careless Christian is the mouthpiece of Satan.
Let us begin with the second lesson, A careless Christian is the mouthpiece of Satan. Anyone who distracts you from the cross is a spokesperson of Satan. Peter rendered himself a spokesperson of Satan when he forgot who he was. There is an old saying, ‘Pride precedes every fall’. When Jesus foretold his disciples of the sufferings that were waiting for them, Peter took the liberty to ‘call Jesus aside and rebuke him’. It was a clear sign of assuming authority over Jesus. Possibly he thought he had authority because moments earlier he had proclaimed Jesus the Son of God, and Jesus had testified that it was a revelation from the Heavenly Father. He forgot that every thought coming to his mind was not a revelation from the Father.
Moments apart he rendered himself spokesperson of God and spokesperson of Satan. How strange! Can one person be the spokesperson of God in one moment and the spokesperson of Satan in the next moment? ‘Yes’ is the disturbing answer. Even when you walk closely with Jesus as Peter did, you run the risk of rendering yourself a spokesperson of Satan. Well, unless you are not careful enough to audit your thoughts.
But, thank God, we have a foolproof test to know the difference, the cross. If the suggestion is a shortcut from the cross it is from the evil. The cross is the shortest cut to salvation. There is no shortcut to cross. There is no shortcut to taking up the cross and following Jesus. Anyone suggesting a shortcut to cross is trying to mislead you. No matter how close the person is, he or she is a spokesperson of the evil at least for a while. Be on your guard always.
Satan tried to mislead Jesus from the cross from the beginning. The three temptations in the desert were attempts to distract Jesus from the cross. In today’s Gospel, we see Satan using Peter to distract Jesus from the cross. Beware of Satan using you to distract anyone from the cross.
Let us encourage one another to carry the cross. Let us help one another carry the cross and follow Jesus. Let us be on guard against anyone suggesting a shortcut to cross. Let us be cautious of ourselves not to render ourselves to be an agent of evil.
All because the shortest cut to salvation is the cross. Let us follow Jesus with our own crosses. Jesus used his cross for our salvation. Always say yes to Jesus, always say yes to the cross. Because the shortest cut to salvation is Jesus on the cross.