Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest "The Simple Faith of Simon Peter"

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, grant that my prayer will be fruitful, that it will gain me the graces that I need to follow you today and that it will help me to know you more fully. Grant that it will be a deeper experience of you and your friendship.

Petition: Lord, help me to follow you completely today, even when it is difficult. Do not let my difficulties be a pretext for abandoning you.

1. We start out with one of the high points of Peter´s life. He is proud. He knew he was better than the rest. He even told them on so on many occasions, and now Jesus is confirming it! The Jews expected the Messiah to throw out the Romans and renew the kingdom of King David. The apostles believed the same thing, at least at the beginning. Peter thinks he is being named the second-in-command of Jesus’ future empire. The second-in-command receives what is called the ‘power of the keys.’ All the apostles had been hoping for that position and struggling for it. Peter receives it.

2. Almost immediately, Peter experiences one of the lowest points of his life. Thinking he is now in a position to give Jesus advice, he speaks to him out of love and friendship, but his advice takes the same form as Satan´s temptations in the wilderness: ´Set aside the will of the Father and do something more convenient for you.´ Jesus reacts just as strongly against Peter as he did against Satan. He calls him Satan and an obstacle in his path. Yet Peter does not lose the power of the keys. He does not understand why he is being rebuked, but he does not let this come between Jesus and him. He understands that Jesus understands what it means to be the Messiah, and he lets him be the Messiah he needs to be instead of trying to make him into the Messiah he expects.

3. We all have our ups and downs. Sometimes we make mistakes and God rebukes us. It is for our own good. We cannot let ourselves become bitter and turn our backs on God until he apologizes. If we do, we are trying to manipulate God. Instead, we need to let him do as he sees fit. He is our Savior and will always do what is best for us even when it hurts.

Dialogue with Christ: Jesus, so many times I look for the easy way out. I want to serve you and serve you well, but so often I think too much about myself and want to substitute your will for me with something else. I am an obstacle to your plan of salvation for all humanity. Please help me to live more and more in line with your plan and give me the strength to fulfill it instead of trying to change it.

Resolution: Today I will try to cooperate with God’s will in every aspect of my life, especially in those aspects that cost me the most. I will pick one of these aspects and motivate myself to do things God’s way instead of my own. I will make sure today that, at least in this aspect, God’s will rules over my life instead of my own. 

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