THE SERVANT GENERAL
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!
Today’s gospel: Matthew 16:13-23
There are terrible words that we should never want to hear
from our Lord Jesus. One is “I never knew you. Depart
from me, you evildoers.” Another is “Depart from
me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil
and his angels.” Today’s is “Get behind
me, Satan!” (v.23a).
Now lest we think such would never happen to us, since we
are striving to live rightly, the first was said to those
who were doing signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. The
second was said to probably good people but who were unmindful
of the poor. The third was said to Peter, who was the first
chosen to be an apostle and who became the first pope.
Peter’s case, what was his fault? Remember Peter had
already accepted Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the
living God.” (v.16). He had already been appointed as
the rock upon which Jesus would build his church (v.18a).
He had been assured that “the gates of the netherworld
shall not prevail against it.” (v.18b). He had been
given “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (v.19a).
He had been given the power to bind and to loose (v.19b).
Peter had it all!
what was his fault? When told by Jesus of his coming passion,
“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God
forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’”
(v.22). Peter rebuked Jesus, the Messiah and Lord! Peter must
have felt really strongly about his opposition to what Jesus
said. To rebuke is to criticize sharply or to reprimand. Here
was the subordinate severely opposing his Master.
wasn’t Peter just concerned about Jesus out of love
for him? Perhaps. Jesus could have been more considerate in
his response. But this was an important moment. Having just
appointed Peter, coming to the culmination of his earthly
ministry, Jesus knew how the error in Peter’s understanding
could jeopardize his whole mission. And so Jesus “turned
and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an
obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human
beings do.’” (v.23).
was preventing Jesus from fulfilling his mission, that of
going to the cross, so that humankind might be saved. Thus
Peter was doing the work of Satan, who opposes Jesus in everything
and seeks to thwart God’s plan. Thus Peter had become
the personification of Satan himself.
We are of so much less stature than Peter in our relationship
with Jesus, in our assignment in the Kingdom, and in our status
in the Church. We may be serving Jesus, we may be good people
at heart, but we can still end up being an obstacle to God’s
plan and thus be condemned. How?
When we say “Lord, Lord” but do not actually
do the will of the Father.
we lack integrity.
we are morally corrupt as we gossip, malign others, cause
strife and disunity.
we are unmindful of the poor.
we insist on our own ways, contrary to the direction of
the community as mapped out by its elders.
We should not want to be thus severely rebuked by Jesus. So
we should strive not to be in Peter’s position. How
does that relate to us in our community?
strive to be docile to the Spirit and submissive to the vision
and direction of the community’s leadership. If the
vision has been explained, if all questions have been answered,
if the Church has been affirming the community direction,
if we are seeing good results on the ground, if there is nothing
morally offensive about what the community is tasked to do,
then your response should be clear: obey and move forward
as one. Do not be hard of heart and hard of hearing.
be aware that Satan will always try to get you to veer away
from the direction God wants. And obviously Satan will come
as an angel of light, and give seemingly good arguments for
why the community direction is wrong. Your posture is not
to think as human beings do, and certainly not under the influence
of the enemy, but to think as God does. Now God imparts His
thinking through His prophets and anointed leaders. Listen
to them. Try to truly understand what they are saying. Humble
as the vision and mission are explained but you still find
it hard to accept, do not cover your personal opposition with
saying that you are only thinking of the good of the community.
Peter said as much, giving as the reason for his opposition
that of not wanting Jesus to undergo the passion. But was
it rather that Peter had his own idea of the Messiah as the
triumphant King rather than the suffering servant? Could he
have been seeing his own hopes and dreams, especially as he
had just been appointed to such lofty tasks, disappearing?
It is not about you! It is about God and the mission entrusted
to those He appoints as elders over the community.
Let not Jesus tell you, “Get behind me, Satan!”