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DEAR JESUS, DO NOT CALL ME "SATAN"

TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

In my lifetime, and I am not that young, I received many suggestions and advices from my friends on what to do or not. I usually followed them with trust. But at times I just wanted to go my way, to try the way that I believed was right and that was … my real me!

This is what Jesus also did many times in His public ministry, as in this Sunday’s Gospel and in other instances. He went His way, no matter what His friends would advise Him otherwise. For He certainly knew better than anyone else around what was right and just, what did truly matter in His life and mission.

As “good” Christians, we firmly believe that Jesus became flesh (Jn 1:14) not by joke or by poor divine planning, but to love us with all his life and death (Jn 13:1), no matter what. He kept nothing for Himself. He offered us, His friends (Jn 15:14-15), not only the washing of our feet but the gift of His “sacrificed” body and blood. On the Cross, in total obedience to the Father, He purposely offered us His supreme gift, His very life. And all this without any human advice!

Jesus’ decision to love us “to the very end” was so much beyond human possibilities, so unthinkable even to his closest friends, that Peter himself could hardly understand Jesus’ mind and, least of all, accept it. So he told him, “This must not happen to you” (Mt 16:22).

But who are you, Peter, to teach the Teacher what is best? Who are you to pretend being wiser than God and to dictate your human opinion to the “Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), as you have just professed? And then, who are we ourselves at times to advise the Lord on what to do? Yes, at one time or another, we all have tried to do so, for the love of Jesus on the Cross has always stood for scandal and foolishness to those who were not his friends.

This mystery of the Cross is what makes our Christian faith so different from all others religions’. We cannot believe with flesh and blood but only by the revelation of the Father (Mt 16:17), mostly recognized in the persevering listening to God in prayerful silence. There, in humble adoration, we will certainly get a spark of Jesus’ true identity and will, and with the apostle Thomas we would cry out, “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).

If at times, like Peter, we dare halting Jesus to give us His total love and service, in His own way, and then we hear Him calling us “Satan”, we’d better return quickly to Him in sorrow and faith, for, in Peter’s very words, we trustfully need to address Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68s).

In today’s world, when we hear of terrible tragedies, from the recent floods and mudslides in Sierra Leone (where I am) to the killing of innocent people in many countries, to the winds of war in the Far East, to the hopelessness of millions of people because of their misery, persecution, homelessness, to the amorality and indifference to God by modern generations, where is our Jesus with all His love for us, for all humankind?

Yes, we believe that He is here, alive and living and loving, with us, fully and unconditionally. Yes, with no doubt, we know that without Him we can win the whole world but ruin our life (Mt 16:26). 

And so we can willingly join Peter, after Jesus’ resurrection, and faithfully tell Him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (Jn 21:17).

To you all, enjoy this Sunday of the Lord to the fullest!

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