Gospel Meditation

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Peter had expressed horror at the prophetic words announcing that Jesus’ suffering and death were imminent. Peter didn’t want his friend and teacher to undergo this terrible ordeal. He wanted “no such thing” ever to happen to his Lord. But Jesus sharply rebuked Peter’s response, comparing it to that of the tempter, Satan. Just as temptation becomes an obstacle to our doing what is right, so Peter was presenting an obstacle to Christ’s mission. Suffering was part of it, like it or not. To deny this difficult element of Christ’s work would be to deny the bigger plan of God. And so Jesus rightly told Peter that he wasn’t thinking like God thinks.

Of course, since we are human, it’s only natural that we should think as human beings do. We, like Peter, tend to recoil at the idea of facing unpleasant or painful circumstances. But clearly God sometimes allows such situations to take place for a greater good. Jesus understood this; even as he prophesied about his death, he also mentioned his resurrection.

Today’s Gospel challenges us to think “as God does” by holding both of these elements together. Unlike Peter who only focused on the sad part of the story, we are called to recognize the Resurrection on the other side of the cross, and to be willing to do whatever is necessary to get there. In fact, Jesus tells us later in this Gospel to take up our cross and follow him. That is not the “human” way of thinking. It’s the Godly way. Our natural response is to reject and scorn the trials and tribulations that we face, but Jesus wants us to embrace them patiently and “come after” him on the (sometimes rough) road to eternal life.
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