It is said that the road to heaven is long and difficult; while the road to hell is smooth and easy. St. Peter wanted the smooth and easy way. He did not want Jesus to suffer. As a result Jesus called him Satan!
We can all identify with St. Peter because we make the same kind of mistake. We continue to equate a carefree life as a blessing and suffering as punishment. When illness strikes the first thing that comes to mind is that God is punishing us. “Why me Lord?” “What have I done to deserve such misery?” Truth is that none of us will ever get what we deserve—thanks be to God. The price for our sins has already been paid. In essence, we get a free ride. However, the cost of our free ride was the Passion and Death of Jesus on the cross. We can’t blame St. Peter for wanting Jesus to choose another option besides suffering. No one in their right mind wants to suffer. Jesus agonized in the garden, “Father, if this cup can pass, let it pass; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was a healthy 33 year old male, full of life, hopes and dreams. However, His purpose was clear—obedience to the Father. To pull humanity out of the mud of disobedience He had to surrender to the pride of the self-righteous: the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. They thought that by killing Jesus the movement that threatened their way of life would end. Jesus had challenged the leadership countless times. He called them hypocrites, false guides, blind fools. Naturally, they remembered the insults. The plot to kill Our Lord had been brewing for some time. What St. Peter proposed was out of the question because in order to avoid suffering Jesus would have had to be silent, run away, or apologize.
Truth comes at a high price. To tell the truth is not a sin, but often makes people uncomfortable. Jesus has been described as someone who came to “comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” Christianity is not like a club where we enjoy the privilege of membership. Rather Christianity is a movement where we are chosen to share in the sufferings of Christ. Should come with a warning. “Christianity might be hazardous to your health.” Look at the long list of martyrs who have given their life for the sake of the Gospel—those are the ones we know—many we will never know.
Surrendering our life does not have to be dramatic. Look at what has happened in Texas because of Hurricane Harvey. Although a great disaster, the hurricane helped unite folks who never met, but were willing to risk their lives for each other. At any given time, there are always more good people willing to share than those who think only of themselves. Yet, the call of the Gospel—the call to suffering—to give of ourselves completely is not just during disasters. Each of us is invited to carry the cross of suffering—some are big, some are small, but we all have one. Be assured that when suffering does come, the grace to endure is not far behind. We are never tested beyond our ability. Like St. Peter we might be tempted to avoid the pain. Yet, we know that if we want to be true followers of Christ, the cross is not an option. Daily putting up with each other at home is a great way to show our love. In the ordinariness of life we can become saints.
People are watching, especially the little ones. The best way to teach is by example. Just like St. Peter, we are forgiven our mistakes because God’s mercy is greater than all the sins of humanity.