|Blessed Claude de la Colombiere,
Psalms 102:16-18, 19-21, 29, 22-23
He began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men." (Mark 8:31-33)
What an emotional roller-coaster for Peter!
On the heels of his recognition of Jesus as the Christ, his beloved teacher reveals the terrifying future, full of rejection, pain and death.
Of course, Peter does not want to accept this. Who does not fear and resist rejection, pain and death?
For his very human and understandable distress, Peter is treated to a nasty rebuke. Often I have thought this to be unfair of Jesus.
None of us wants to accept pain. Those we love will lose their lives, as will we, but we don't want to deal with that. We, along with Peter, understand our perspectives (the side of men) on these issues. How do we come to understand Jesus' perspective as he faced his own pain and death, and attempted to share something about it with his disciples?
Maybe we have to explore, without fear, the pain and terror of own lives.
When my middle daughter was about 4 or 5 years old, she excitedly greeted me at the door on my return home from work one day. She wanted to show me something in the basement. She took my hand, dragged me toward the stairs, then broke away and started to bound down the steps ahead of me.
Halfway down, she tripped. She tumbled down the stairs and at the bottom, landed face-first on the concrete floor, where she burst into tears.
In an instant I was at her side, holding my sobbing little girl tight in my arms, comforting her, checking to be sure no bones were broken. And in this moment at the bottom of the stairs, which was terrifying for me, I had a flash of insight.
"This is how God must love me," I thought. "God cannot or will not prevent pain. He won't keep me from taking an occasional tumble down the stairs. But He knows when I am hurt and helpless. He holds me in his arms, He hates that I am hurt, He comforts me and loves me and hopes I've broken no bones."
My daughter was not seriously injured. And I had been graced with a tiny insight into God's perspective on our pain and terror.
Jesus suffered His own measure of fear and resistance as he faced his suffering and death. Today's Gospel points out that he spoke about it "plainly" with his disciples. Why "plainly"?
Because Jesus wants to be absolutely sure that his disciples understand what is going to happen and why. But Peter doesn't get it, and he attempts to correct Jesus.
No wonder Jesus is angry and scolds Peter. Suddenly, my sense that Jesus is unnecessarily harsh with Peter turns into a sense of compassion for Jesus.
In His moment of very human anger and frustration, Jesus becomes substantial for me -- He becomes "one of us." In fact, my heart bleeds for Him as I contemplate this Gospel passage. It is painful to experience Him so alone and misunderstood.
Yet I am permitted, in reading and re-reading this little episode,
to embrace and love Jesus, to return His love for me, to be with Him, without
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