Today’s Gospel: Mark 8:31-38
In our reading today, Peter thinks he knows what is best for Jesus. He thinks he knows God’s plan. Jesus is the Messiah, the promised one, which in Peter’s thinking means he must be a great general who will go to war, defeat the Romans, and free the Jewish people. When Jesus tells him that the Messiah must suffer and die, Peter cannot believe it. He tries to correct Jesus, only to be rebuked in the harshest way. Jesus knows his calling is not to be an earthly king but a servant, not to take the lives of his enemies but to give his own. During his days in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with earthly power. In Peter’s protest, Jesus sees Satan’s influence and he tells his friend – Get behind me Satan. Peter needs to understand that God’s plans are greater than anything he imagines. He has to let go of his old idea of a military Messiah and see Jesus for what he is—God’s suffering servant.
During this Lenten season ask yourself—what view of myself or understanding about my life am I being called to change, grow beyond, or to die to? What do I need to let go of, to crucify, in order to turn myself towards God’s larger purpose for my life? For those of us who struggle with insecurity, perhaps it is time to loosen our grip on our self-image that says things like – you don’t measure up, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t good enough? In its place our Lord would have us know that we are the beloved children of God. Perhaps you harbor anger or resentment for a person or people in your life? Anger and resentment poison our souls and warp our personalities. God would have us let go of these things and focus on the work of forgiveness, on the grace of understanding. Perhaps you struggle with grief, life literally crucified a piece of you when you lost someone you love? It may be hard to see now, but God has a vision for your future that is bigger than your pain, wider than the reality of this loss. Lent is the time to open ourselves to God’s larger purpose, to expand our view of ourselves and our world. In so doing, we can discover a deeper relationship with God and ourselves. As St. Paul said, Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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