Sunday, August 28, 2011

Obstacles To Grace

James Tissot's: Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

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.

6 comments:

Colleen said...

Karinann, we had some of the same thoughts this week. I love your main theme though - obstacles to grace.
The great thing about Peter is that he never gave up. He made mistakes but he kept plugging away. I pray we do the same!
Beautiful reflection. Thanks. Hugs and blessings!

mary333 said...

Thanks for this reflection on today's gospel, Karin. It may be the only one I get if things don't settle down a bit outside. They downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm but we are getting wind gusts of around 60 and have been asked to stay off the streets. I guess you weathered the storm well? I don't know how much longer we'll have electricity (it's been flickering) so I'm using the computer while I can :)

Michael said...

Wonderful reminder Karinann.

And despite this, and the reminders in the Bible, it is still really hard to embrace our crosses, isnt it?

God Bless.

Karinann said...

Colleen, that is the example we need to take from Peter~his perseverance in love and faith for Our Lord.

Mary, safe and somewhat sound here. The rain has stopped but the winds are still whipping. Not sure how long electricity will last here either-neighboring towns have lost some. Stay safe!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

OK ... let's be honest, at least with ourselves. How often do we pray "Thy will be done!" but deep in our heart we hope not in case it's a discomfort to us. That's exactly what Peter was doing. He could not understand God's will for Jesus.

True we have to carry our crosses. But why?

How different would the progress of Christianity be if those followers of Jesus were not to suffer any pain, discomfort or crosses to carry? As St Theresa of Avilla remarked "... no wonder You have so few friends!"

It's the "why" asked of us by so many un-believers which should make us stand out in society.

God bless.

Karinann said...

Yes Victor; I often pray that prayer with less trust than I should. As for the why, that's easy to answer but not so easy to live. The why is because Jesus did therefore to follow Him, so must we~All roads to heaven are by way of the Cross.
Thanks fore your insightful thoughts on this one.

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.