"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.”
Lord, how can I think any differently? After all, human is what I am…
I find it tempting to correlate Jesus’ use of the word “human” in this Gospel passage with a variety of negative adjectives: ignorant, foolhardy, self-serving, and naïve. The cynic in me would respond to Christ in the manner indicated above, perhaps the cynic in all of us would. I would feel compelled to defend my humanity as something that is sacred, beautiful, and noble.
In my imagination, Christ smiles at my exclamations, merely nodding his agreement with me. He says, “You’re right, humanity is all of those things, but it can also be terribly destructive. I have shown you the Way of God in thoughts, words, and deeds, but it will always be up to you to live it. Do not speak from emotions and false pretenses like Peter did; rather, listen with your heart and think using what I have taught you. Then you will be on your way to living as I did.” He closes with a smile that thinly veils all the wisdom of the world, and comfortingly reminds me that, with grace, such a life is not impossible.
Now, maybe my imaginary Jesus did not say things in the way that yours might have said them, but I think the point is still viable. Namely, we must constantly strive to look beyond the little things in this world that cloud our vision and judgment. They can range from something as insignificant as a rude comment made towards us at the beginning of the day to something as serious as a moral failure on our part. Each moment is a new opportunity for us to live as Christ lived, to see the world through loving eyes, willing to serve each other and learn from each other.
Additionally, I think it is important to try and look at our world with the eyes of Christ. The first reading about Noah and his family can be misleading, in that it seemingly implies that we are the masters of the world and anything in it can and should be turned to our will. If we look at the world through Jesus’ eyes we can see it as a sacred place, a place that should not necessarily be mastered but cherished, learned from, and preserved. We are a part of this world, and as such it should be treasured. However, even more than that, if we are to think as God thinks I think we can come to see the world and the bounty of life that inhabits it as an integral part of the very health of our souls. Many people admittedly feel most at peace, at home, or in harmony with their soul/center of being when they are surrounded by something wild, mysterious, and beautiful, such as a rugged mountain wilderness, a pristine forest, or the constant swelling of the ocean.
We are of the world, and we are also children of God. There is the potential for a beautiful harmony there, as it is God who sustains both the world and us.