One of the amazing things about the pilgrimage I took this summer was walking in the footsteps of those saints who had gone before me. Reading today’s Gospel transports me back to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This Peter who today takes Jesus aside and rebukes him is not so different than many of us who think we know better than God. The line up at St. Peter’s to rub the foot of the statue of St. Peter is long. Much shorter is the opportunity to stand in front of his tomb and give thanks to this man who followed Christ. Who is this disciple who nails it at times and at other times, misses it completely? Sounds like me many days….
In the first reading Jeremiah cannot keep quiet about God and so it is with the psalmist who says “I will bless you as long as I live.” The second reading encourages us to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” and to not conform to this world but to discern the will of God. That is what Christ did. That is what Peter tried to do, even if he did fall short at times.
Christ’s message of denying oneself and picking up the cross is not an easy one. If the Son of Man will come with the angels to repay each one according to our work, will we be found wanting? Will we get it confused like Peter did? I think if Peter is our example, we can rest a bit. He got it wrong lots and he still has a massive cathedral to honour him and thousands of people trekking to touch a statute’s foot hoping to glean some insights of this saint.
God is not a God who punishes mercilessly. God is Compassion and Love. Discern the will of God to the best of your ability and find the faith to step forward on the journey. A great cloud of witnesses have been there before and know the road well. Let them be your guide.