August 27, 2011
22nd Sunday - A
The Cross - Do I Get It?
In the Gospel reading of last week (Matthew 16: 13-20), Simon Peter, in the name of the other disciples, acknowledges that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." In response, Jesus says to him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." Thus, Peter is the rock upon which Jesus builds the Church.
A few verses later, in the same chapter, as we hear today, the same Simon Peter misses the point. And Jesus calls him "Satan."
The difference is the cross.
In the first dialogue, Peter gets the correct answer because he only has to follow a Jesus who is the Messiah by his standard. This is the Jesus who bestows on Peter power and authority.
In the second dialogue, it is a different mode of a Messiah that Peter must follow. This is not a Messiah who conquers and destroys. This is not a Messiah who gives earthly power and authority.
This Messiah is on his way to Jerusalem to "suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed." Only then, "on the third day" he is raised.
Not only is the Messiah here different than Peter's expectation, he tells Peter to take up his cross and follow.
Can I do that? Can I handle the cross? Or better, can I follow a Messiah who carries the cross?