The disciples have been following Jesus for a good while. They have seen him in action and have heard his words spoken with authority. Most important, they have seen that he lives what he preaches. Now Jesus wants them to say now what they are thinking in his regard. Do they believe in him? Have they understood who he really is and why he has come into their lives and into the world?
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
“You are thinking not as God does . . . ”
At first it seems that Peter “gets it.” He confidently exclaims, “You are the Christ.” But Peter’s vision of the Messiah does not coincide with that of Jesus. Jesus describes what he must undergo, saying that he “must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” This overwhelms Peter and clashes with his ideas, so he adamantly rejects it. It cannot be this way.
While Jesus understands Peter’s human way of thinking, Jesus must be faithful to his mission and wants to lead Peter beyond his narrow human perspective. Jesus is always inviting us “beyond.” He loves and accepts us where we are, but he wants to move us beyond, into a way of thinking, feeling, and living that is in tune with his own. In this, Jesus’ constant reference point is the Father. The goal of Jesus’ life is to be faithful to the Father’s plan of love for humanity. Like Peter, we can easily get stuck in our narrow, human perspective. Without the teachings, example, and grace of Jesus, we remain stuck. But in every situation, Jesus is at our side, inviting us to see things just a little bit differently, to think about reality with a God-perspective that can change our lives. Is there a situation in my life right now that God is inviting me to see in a different way?
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of Ordinary Time in: Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34