Understanding God’s Ways

Mark 8: 27-33
Jas 2: 1-9 / Ps 34: 2-7

…you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.
(Mark 8:33)

There’s still so much for us to learn
To understand God’s plans sublime,
But we must trust His main concern
Is our Life for eternal time.

Jesus and His disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered Him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ Then He warned them not to tell anyone about Him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ (Mark 8: 27-33)

Reflection

St. Mark once served as an interpreter of St. Peter, from whom he must have sourced much of the events of the Lord’s life in his Gospel. Note that his Gospel does not contain the words of Jesus exalting Peter, which we find in Matthew: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Mt.16:17-19). A humble man, Peter did not include this when he related this event to Mark. But he did not leave out his blunder where he was rebuked by the Lord in Caesarea Philippi.

St. Peter exemplifies our limited human knowledge in discerning spiritual truth. Only God’s indwelling Spirit can give that wisdom. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63) Thus, we must put our full trust in God, no matter how unreasonable His terms may seem to be. We must strive for the faith of Abraham as our model. He obeyed God to kill his only son Isaac as a sacrifice, even if he was already too old to sire another child.

Typical of our human nature, when things are looking up, we thank God and praise Him for our blessings. But once the going gets rough, and we start experiencing trials and pain, we tend to question God, and lose our trust in Him. It’s just human nature, I suppose. Like when we were little children, we used to complain when our father withheld something we wanted, and we rebelled against his strict methods. When we became more mature, we realized that he allowed us to experience difficulties in our younger years in order to make us strong and independent. Our Lord always has the best in mind for us, but we cannot always see the wisdom of His ways. “For my ways are higher than your ways, as high as heaven is above the earth,” He said in Isaiah. In the face of all difficulties and trials, what He most expects from us is to trust in Him, more than in our own abilities. We might have gotten it right the first time, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get it right all the time. We’ll still need to put our trust in Him, because His ways are far better than we can even begin to imagine.

Father God, you have given us a clear picture of Your purpose for us, which is to receive Jesus as our Savior. Through Your Holy Spirit, our hearts and minds have been illumined to receive His Truth, which has given our life its purpose. Amen.

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