Peter Identifies Jesus as the Christ
Reflection on the Gospel of the Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time
Well! It’s that time when Peter must have felt like a straight ace student. He recognized Jesus as the True Messiah. Jesus is then heard confirming with his disciples that He is indeed the Messiah but they are told to keep it a secret. It is a secret that the disciples would like to keep for the time being in exchange for Ministerial posts in Jesus’ Kingdom after Rome is defeated by the army of their Messiah. Their sweet day dreams quickly vanish when Jesus paints a different picture of his Messianic mission. Jesus tells them of His suffering, rejection, death and eventual resurrection.
In the mind of the disciples, there’s a battle of Messianic ideas. The Victorious Messiah isn’t supposed to be rejected, humiliated or die. The Messiah is supposed to Rule the People of Israel from the Throne of David forever. This was the promise, this was the prophecy. Peter is therefore quick to play bodyguard, he promises Jesus that he will not permit anyone to kill Jesus.
Peter is immediately reprimanded by Jesus as an obstacle (Satan) to his salvific messianic mission. Jesus is the Messiah – but a different one. No longer would blood of lambs and sacrifices of holocausts be needed for forgiveness of sins. The suffering, rejection and the sacrifice of Jesus’ own holy body and blood would save humanity past, present and future from the bondage of sin and earn humanity the grace to enter the Eternal Kingdom of God.
Entering the Kingdom of God is a gift of love given to humanity. The gift is received with grace, when we acknowledge Jesus and enter a meaningful relationship with Him. To develop a meaningful relationship with him, we need to live the Gospel. We need to imitate Jesus himself. We need to deny our identities as children of the world and grow in virtue to be children of God. The road to destruction is a highway rejecting the cross but the road to lasting happiness is long, winding and extremely narrow carrying the cross. If only we could realize that we are not carrying our crosses alone – Jesus helps us carry it too.