3rd SEPTEMBER 2023

Get Behind Me and Take Up Your Cross - Gary Neal Hansen -



Jer 20: 7-9;                 Ps 63: 2-6,8-9;                        Rom 12: 1-2;              Mt 16: 21-27



The liturgy of the Word invites us to become Rocks that build the Church – the Kingdom of God, and not rocks that are stumbling blocks. Many times it is a selfish attitude that prevents us to be a co-constructor of the kingdom of God. In the second reading of today and the Gospel, we are invited to practice Self-denial, to be a living sacrifice. Let us reflect on the dialogue between Saint Peter, the Rock and Jesus, the Redeemer.

There are three things can be highlighted:

  1. Peter takes Jesus aside.
  2. Jesus calls Peter Satan, and
  3. Called to deny Self.

  1. Peter takes Jesus aside:

Just a little while back, Peter had solemnly declared, “You are the MESSIAH, the Son of the Living God”. Jesus then began to reveal the mission of the Messiah: The ‘Messiah must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised’. Immediately, Peter takes Jesus aside and forbids him. Peter takes note of the Killing of Jesus, but not of his resurrection. Hence, he commits the mistake of misinterpreting the mission of Jesus. Peter takes charge, becomes the leader and tries to impose his ideas on Jesus about the Messiah. On the contrary, Jesus is the Messiah and Leader. The very purpose of His incarnation is to do the will of His Father. Don’t we also become Peter more often, imposing on Jesus our dreams and wishes? The role of Peter is to be an obedient disciple of his master Jesus, not to be master of His Master Jesus. Let us reflect on our prayers. Do we seek to do God’s will in our lives or try to impose our will upon Him?

  1. Jesus calls Peter Satan:

In the gospel of Matthew, we have the narration of the temptation of Jesus, where at the third temptation, Jesus commanded Satan: Get away from me, Satan. Peter is also commanded by Jesus similarly, not to get away but to get behind Him. Peter is not an enemy but a disciple. Hence, getting behind means showing Peter his place of discipleship. Jesus is the master who stands ahead and the disciples follow the master.

Another reason that Jesus addressed him as Satan was because, in the three temptations, the purpose of Satan was to impose his will on Jesus. Peter tried to take away Jesus from doing God’s will. Peter was more focused on things of the world than the things of God. The person of Peter teaches us to discern the will of God in our lives and focus ourselves on God alone. At times, the will of God may appear rude, harsh, merciless and senseless but in the end, it is His will that we are to do.

  1. Called to Deny Self:

Are we ready to be Jesus’ disciples? If Yes, then He invites us to deny ourselves. An act of denial demands sacrifice. God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only son for us. The way of God is quite opposite to our worldly ways: whoever tries to save his life will lose it and who loses it will gain life, the first would be last and the last first, blessed are the poor etc. The person of Jesus Christ invites us to grow into this denial. Self-denial is not an act of suffering but rather an act of love for the greater glory of God.

Peter was called Rock by the Lord on which he would build his Church but the same Rock becomes a Block in completing the mission of Jesus. Peter unknowingly tried to be a leader to Jesus and asked Jesus to do his will. It can happen to us also. Often, we are unaware when we try to overrule Jesus, we try to tell Him what to do in our lives. Many a time, we try to give Him the list concerning our family, jobs, desires, wishes and dreams. We ask Him to fulfil our demands. This is how we become a trap, a stumbling block, a hindrance for Jesus. Let us pray that we learn to discern His will in our lives.

Response: For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord, my God.

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