Dear brothers and sisters,
Have you ever felt “duped” by God as did the prophet Jeremiah in today’s first reading? Perhaps we feel duped by a relationship choice that did not turn out so well, or a career path that has proven bumpy, or a hobby or pastime that is taking away from more important things. We may feel duped by big life choices or small everyday choices, and sometimes it is through no fault of our own.
Peter in today’s Gospel reading may have felt duped by Jesus. Immediately after he confessed Jesus as the Messiah, and is named by Jesus as the “rock” on which He will build His Church, today Peter is told, “Get behind me Satan!” Talk about a bad day! Peter does not understand the path that Jesus must walk – to go to Jerusalem, suffer at the hands of the authorities, be crucified, and then raised on the third day. He is “thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ we must always ask for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit in all decisions, big and small. I have always been taught that when a person makes a big life decision, he or she should pray before, during, and after the decision. This is the art of discernment – listening attentively to God’s will, which is not always our will, and thus Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray “thy will be done.”
If we feel duped by God, may we turn to him with confidence, for he is with us always, even until the end of time (Mt 28:20). So often we think we know our own path for happiness, but God has other plans. Peter probably had his own comfortable ideas about his future path, and it probably did not involve the death of Jesus his Master. Yet that was not the end of the story for him – in the end Peter found the strength to lead the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit.
May we trust in God always that He who calls each of us by name also has a special plan for all of His disciples. His path for us may involve the cross, but most certainly the Resurrection as well. As we celebrate Labor Day weekend and our summer vacations come to an end, may we all ask for divine Wisdom from on high to know in a new way God’s plan, and to begin anew if we have fallen away from the path. Peace to you.