|Christ, the Strength of the Martyrs!|
PRAISED Be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Last week, Simon received the name Peter. Today, he is called Satan. Last week, he was praised for receiving revelation from the heavenly Father. Today, he is rebuked for thinking not as God does but as human beings do. Simon Peter was rebuked for opposing the plan of the Lord to go to Jerusalem in order to suffer and die in order to be raised up. Many of us might object: Was it wrong for St. Peter to desire for the Lord’s safety and well-being? Apparently, we find nothing wrong with what Peter said. But this is because we also are thinking as humans do. We are not thinking as God does.
The Lord called Peter “Satan” because Peter was opposing the mission of Jesus to suffer and die on the Cross. He was acting as an “enemy of the cross”. In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul spoke about the enemies of the Cross: “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” (Phil. 3:18-19) To detest the Cross is to be its enemy.
To the Lord, the Cross plays an integral part of his mission. To him, it is the only means to enter into his glory. Thus, he makes it a requirement for discipleship. Anyone who wishes to be his disciple must embrace the Cross: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” The doctrine of the Cross opposes the way of the world which is the way of self-preservation: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” The way of the world is self-preservation through accumulation. The world regards suffering as evil which should be avoided. We are taught that we must accumulate as much as we can in order to shield ourselves from suffering. But the Lord himself tells us that the rejection of the Cross is the path to destruction: “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross wrote: “The entirely comfortable being-at-home in the world, the satiety of pleasures that it offers, the demands for their pleasures and the matter-of-course consent to these demands – all of this is darkness in God’s eyes and incompatible with the divine light. It has to be totally uprooted if room for God is to be made in the soul. Meeting this demand means engaging in battle with one’s own nature all along the line, taking up one’s cross and delivering oneself up to be crucified.” (Edith Stein, The Science of the Cross, 47.)
The path to life is the path of self-denial. The way of the Cross is the way of discipleship. But what does it mean to deny oneself and to take up the Cross? St. John of the Cross explains this through maxims. He said: “Take care that your inclination is ever directed: not toward the easier, but toward the more difficult; not toward the pleasant, but toward the unpleasant; not toward the restful, but toward the troublesome; not toward the more, but toward the less, not toward what brings you more joy, but what brings displeasure; not towards what prepares consolation for you, but toward what makes you disconsolate; not toward the higher and more valuable, but toward the lowly and insignificant; not toward what wants to be something, but toward what wants to be nothing. Seek not what is the better in things, but what is worse. Demand for the sake of Christ to enter into total denudation and freedom and poverty from all there is in the world.” (CWJC, A.1.13.6-8.)
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!