Freedom From Fear

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Saints for Today

Readings for Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

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[Jesus] began to teach [the Apostles] that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.  He spoke this openly.  Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  Mark 8:31-32

Why would Peter take Jesus aside and rebuke Him?  Was it a rebuke of anger at Jesus?  No, it was most likely a rebuke based in the fear that Peter was experiencing in his heart.

This passage says that Jesus “began to teach” the Apostles that He would soon suffer greatly, be rejected and killed.  This would have been difficult for the Apostles to accept and understand.  At first, they would have experienced all the emotions and thoughts that we all go through as we are processing some difficult news.  We may start with denial, then become angry, look for a way out, panic, be confused, etc.  Going through stages of grief and acceptance are normal and it appears that this is what Peter was experiencing.

Out of his interior struggle in coming to an acceptance of what Jesus was starting to reveal to them, Peter tried to put up a block.  In Matthew’s account of this story we hear the actual words of Peter, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you” (Mt. 16:22).

Peter’s words were certainly words of concern for Jesus, but it’s important to note that, just because Peter was concerned about Jesus, this doesn’t mean that his words were helpful.

As the story continues, Jesus rebukes Peter sternly, but it’s done out of love for Peter to help rid him of his fear and confusion.  It’s understandable that Peter is fearful of the prediction of the Cross.  It’s understandable when any one of us experiences fear in the face of some grave cross or hardship.  The key here is to know that Jesus does not want us to sit in fear.  He does not want us to run from the crosses we are given based on our human weakness.  Instead, He wants us to turn to Him and try to think as He thinks, to act as He acts, and to face our hardships as He did by embracing His Cross.

Reflect, today, upon your own reaction to the difficult things God calls you to do.  Yes, you can be certain that He does daily call you to actions that require great sacrifice and great love.  This can be experienced as painful.  But you should never allow the pain of any cross to deter you from carrying it.  Pray that you have courage to face your crosses and, if needed, be open to the loving rebuke of Jesus when you find that you need a rebuke to set you on the path to freedom from fear.

Lord, I know that You courageously and fearlessly faced the holy sacrifice of Your glorious Cross.  As I am invited to follow in Your footsteps, I find that fear can overwhelm me as it did Peter.  Please strengthen me in those times and give me the grace I need to say “Yes” to You no matter what You ask.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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