Print Version    Email to Friend
Twenty-fourth Sunday of the Year—Peter follows with misunderstanding

Along the way to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus quizzes the disciples with two questions: Who do people say I am; the second one is more challenging: Who do you say I am? 
After reporting what people are saying, Peter shows to have understood everything and, on behalf of the others, proclaims: “You are the Messiah,” the Christ, the saviour spoken of by the prophets, and that all the people are waiting. It is hard to find a more appropriate response.
Peter gave a precise definition only in form. But, in fact, the idea he has in mind is totally distorted. He continues to be convinced that Jesus  will soon begin an earthly kingdom. The misconception is total and for Jesus the time to correct this dangerous mistake has arrived. Jesus makes it clear, that the goal of his journey is through suffering and crucifixion.  
The disciples can neither understand nor accept the prospect of the gift of life. It is not for this that they left the house, the boat, the family to follow Jesus. Where does he want to lead them, to ruin, to defeat?
Jesus does not withdraw a word, in fact, two more times he repeats to them, “the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him” (Mark 9:31); “You see we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be condemned to death. They will make fun of him, spit on him, scourge him, and finally kill him” (Mark 10:33-34). 
These are the six ways by which humans respond to God who comes to meet him to offer him salvation. A seventh will follow: “Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:34), but this will be the work of God.
Human logic cannot but be upset in front of such a prospect. In fact Peter, on behalf of all, reacts, not for fear of sacrifices, we know that he would be willing to risk his life if necessary, but to win, not to lose. He does not feel like committing himself in an absurd project. He cannot accept to walk a road that leads to failure, that is why he tries to make Jesus change his mind.
Jesus’ response to Peter, who wants to turn him from his way. is tough. Peter made the mistake by putting himself ahead of Jesus. Moved by his religious beliefs, he felt compelled to show him the way. Jesus invites him to return to his place—behind—and to follow in his footsteps. He calls him “Satan” because, having absorbed the thoughts of men, which makes him blind and unable to understand the will of God (Wisdom 2:21-22), he suggested to Jesus, without even realising it, choices opposite to those of the Lord. 
The apostles received from Jesus the strict injunction not to disclose his identity. If we do not verify, in the light of the words in today’s Gospel, the reasons why we proclaim ourselves Christians, he could also strictly impose silence to many of us.
● Father Fernando Armellini scj 
 Claretian Publications
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF