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Peter: Rock and Satan

by Aug 4, 2022Friar Reflection, Parish Blog

In today’s Gospel Matthew continues to tell the story of the disciples’ journey of faith.  The story once again centers on Peter.  In Tuesday’s Gospel Peter showed himself to be a person of faith, at least for a moment.  Peter walked to Jesus on the water but then he began to doubt, and Jesus rebukes him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

Peter again appears in today’s Gospel.  Jesus calls him both Rock and Satan.  Peter confesses that Jesus is the “Messiah, (Christ), the Son of the living God.”  In response Jesus gives him the nickname Cephas which means Rock in Aramaic.  However, when Jesus begins to teach his disciples that he is to be a suffering Messiah Peter rebukes him.  In response Jesus calls him Satan, a scandal (obstacle).  Peter, judging according to human standards, is trying to turn Jesus away from God’s way, the way of the cross.

The faith journey of the first disciples becomes a paradigm of the faith journey of disciples throughout the ages.  We as disciples are challenged to think and judge not as human beings but as God.  The rebuke Jesus addressed to Peter is addressed to all of us: “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  Disciples throughout the ages have struggled with this scandal of the cross. St. Paul himself struggled with this scandal.  At first, he could not accept a crucified Messiah.  Finally, Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and rebuked him for judging according to human standards instead of God’s standards.  Paul states the challenge of the cross in these powerful words:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25).

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Image: “Stone Pile” by Tingy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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