Last week we heard Peter answer Jesus' question, "Who do you say I am?" He answered it by telling Jesus that he believed that Jesus was and is the Messiah. OK, so Jesus takes things a step further in this week's Gospel by telling Peter and the other Apostles that He will soon go to Jerusalem where He will be handed over to suffer and die. Well our dear, impetuous friend Peter is having none of that and he goes so far as to tell Jesus so~"God forbid, Lord, that this should happen to you!" It seems Peter's answer of Jesus being the Messiah was right for the wrong reasons, so wrong in fact that Jesus tells Peter: "Get Thee behind Me, Satan; you are an obstacle to Me!"
Peter, as were probably all the Apostles, was of the mindset of Messiah as warrior. They didn't quite understand the reality of Jesus' mission and all that it entailed. They couldn't see that the Cross was His weapon for this particular battle. Jesus chose this weapon, and chose to die by it for our salvation.
Jesus hands us our mission in today's Gospel as well, and He hands us the same weapon, that of the cross. It will be different for each of us. Some of us may have more than one.
Peter didn't realize it at the time, but what Jesus may have meant in telling him he was an obstacle to Him was that in reality Peter was an obstacle to grace, the grace that would stream from his wounds and Precious Blood. Peter was an obstacle to the grace that would lead to his salvation.
How often are we an obstacle to this grace that Jesus wants to bestow on us? The culture today tells us to do all that we can to escape suffering, and to do all that we can so that we are not inconvenienced in the slightest way. The world does not understand the Cross and it runs from it.
As Christians we know the value and redemptive nature of suffering, but it is still very easy to want to put down our crosses and follow the ways of the world. But oh, the grace we lose when we do this.
I am not saying to go and hunt down suffering, but as Catholic Christians, we need to learn to accept it when it comes, uniting it to Jesus' suffering. This draws down great graces, not only for us, but for others as well.
Our Lord may not ask us to suffer in great ways, but there are countless little inconveniences that we must endure every day. When they come, let us not put up the obstacles of pride, anger and irritability. Let us ask Jesus to tear down these obstacles that keep us from Him and all the grace with which He wishes to lavish us.
When it gets tough to do this, let us just remember that it is our salvation that is at stake. The Crown of the Cross is eternal life in our heavenly home.