Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Matthew 16:21-27

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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Get behind me, Satan! (Matthew 16:23)

Amazing! In one moment, Jesus tells Peter that his words “You are the Messiah” had come from God himself (Matthew 16:17). Then, almost immediately afterward, because Peter is trying to dissuade him from the cross, Jesus rebukes him and calls him Satan. What happened?

In both cases, it was Peter’s mind that came to these conclusions. It was Peter’s voice that spoke the words. It was Peter’s good intentions that motivated him. Yet one message came from God, and the other, from the devil.

Even with the best of intentions, we can say and do things that help the devil instead of the Lord. This is why it’s so important to try to develop the gift of discernment.

Even after this strong rebuke from Jesus, Peter continued to find himself influenced by the devil. At the Last Supper, he joined the other disciples in arguing about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Later that evening, he told Jesus that he would never deny him—but he did (22:31-34, 54-62). He even tried to keep Jesus from washing his feet (John 13:5-8). You would think that Peter would have learned by then!

But this isn’t the whole story. Peter did grow in his ability to discern God’s will. On Pentecost Sunday, his preaching converted thousands (Acts 2:37-41). His willingness to reach out to Cornelius and his family, even though they were Gentiles, enlarged everyone’s view of God’s plan (10:25-48).

Like Peter, we are going to be influenced by the devil and end up doing things that hinder God’s plan. It’s just the way we are as fallen people. But that’s not the whole story. Jesus wants to teach us how to identify the devil’s ploys. If you pray for grace and if you take time each day to reflect on your thoughts and actions, your gift of discernment will grow. You will think and act more like Jesus.

“Lord, fill me with your grace. Teach me to choose your will more and more.”

Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9; Romans 12:1-2

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

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