Reading our Gospel today, one would have to feel sorry for St. Peter. When Jesus poses the question: “Who do you say I am?” He is no longer asking the apostles to relate to Him the thinking of the people. He now wants to know what their personal opinion is. He seeks a sign from each of them to put into words…their faith… in action. Out of the silence, Peter bravely speaks and says, “You are the Christ.” Everyone might have thought it, but Peter leads the way and says it. He believes Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus warns them not to reveal this truth about Him just yet.
He then explains all that is going to happen. He will suffer and be rejected, put to death and rise again. Peter, probably still feeling brave after getting the identity of Jesus correct, takes Jesus aside and says this is outrageous and should not be allowed to happen. After all, if we have to climb mountains, we all want the path of least resistance. And, after all, if God would only listen to Peter, the world would be better off. (Kind of sounds like our prayers most of the time…doesn’t it.) Jesus reprimands him (and each of us) in full view of all the apostles and says: “Get behind me Satan.” This must have been a crushing experience for Peter. But Jesus tells the apostles, and us, that His followers must take up their cross and follow Him. There is no way to escape suffering if we are followers of Christ. The world doesn’t want to hear Jesus or His teaching, it wants all the benefits…but…little of the work it takes to make the world the Kingdom of God. Mankind still suffers from the original sin of wanting to be gods…and make the world in our image. (How has that been working for us lately?)
The irony is that people think because you are a follower of Christ you should be protected from the worst of what life has to throw at you. It’s not the case. What we can rely on is the presence of Jesus with us in the midst of what we are going through. And, know in faith, He is the Messiah Who is Integrity Itself and will not leave us or forget us. (Though, we tend to be more like Peter at times.) Let us thank the Lord for His strength in us.