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'Get Behind Me Satan'

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By Marc Massery (Sep 14, 2018)
View the readings for this Sunday.

Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 — Twenty Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
• Is 50:5-9A
• Ps 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
• Jas 2:14-18
• Mk 8:27-35


The triumphant reign of King David had long passed away. The Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans ruled over the chosen people.

When Jesus walked the earth, the Jews were awaiting the Savior, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who would deliver them from earthly subjugation.

In the Gospel reading this Sunday, Peter becomes the first Apostle to identify Jesus as the one who would finally set them free.

The Gospel reads:

"[Jesus says,] 'But who do you say that I am?'

Peter said to him in reply, 'You are the Christ'" (Mk 8:29).

Though Peter was right about Jesus' identity, he and many others were wrong about how this Messiah would go about redeeming His people.

The Gospel continues, "[Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days" (Mk 8:31).

Like his fathers before him, Peter believed that the Christ would deliver the Jews from the grips of Roman rule and lead them to earthly domination and prosperity.

But Christ's explanation contradicts what he and many others had anticipated.

So, Peter rebukes Jesus. In other words, he tells the Lord that He ought to avoid suffering and confront their enemies through conquest — even destruction.

"At this [Jesus] turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (Mk 8:33).

According to Scripture scholar William Barclay, Jesus reacted so vehemently to Peter's words because Peter had voiced the very temptations assailing Him. Satan, himself, tempted Christ in the desert with earthly power. And Christ, indeed, had the power to deny the suffering, to choose a path that would require much less pain in the foreseeable future. But this temptation directly opposed the Father's will. Jesus knew that without His suffering and death, we would have no expiation for our sin — no redemption.

As Jesus says to St. Faustina in her Diary: "There is but one price at which souls are bought, and that is suffering united to My suffering on the cross. Pure love understands these words; carnal love will never understand them." (324)

Jesus showed us that we cannot have the glory of the Resurrection without the suffering of the Cross.

Many of us avoid following Christ with our whole hearts out of fear of the Cross because we naturally resist this suffering. But when we turn from the necessity of the Cross, we become like Peter and align ourselves, however unwittingly, with the evil one.

We must submit to the the Cross and unite our struggles with Christ's once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary. Only then will our hearts be opened fully to the mercy of God, which will recreate us into the men and women He intended us to be.

View the previous Sunday Scripture Preview

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