The Weakness Of St. Peter: What He Teaches Us About Surrendering Our Fears

by Faith & Life, Gospels, Meaning of Suffering

How do you deal with suffering? How do you learn to push through discomfort, fear and anxiety for the sake of Jesus Christ? At some point in life, we all must encounter fears, and some of them are too heavy to overcome alone. In Matthew 16:21, Peter balks at Jesus’ description of the suffering He will soon endure in Jerusalem, and he receives a swift rebuke from Jesus, “Get behind me, Satan!” With the clarity of retrospect, we see Peter’s avoidance as naive, but perhaps we are too hard on him. Isn’t his reaction all too human?

We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to better integrate Scripture into your daily life.

Three questions to ask yourself on a spiritual level:

1. What would you do if you were not concerned with what others think?

2. How would you live if you were willing to suffer for the sake of the mission?

3. What would you do if you were not afraid of death, dishonor and failure?

A reading from the Book of Jeremiah 20: 7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,”God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Spiritual Exercise

1. Think of a time when you avoided discomfort, even though you knew you’d regret it later. Ask the Holy Spirit to come to your aid the next time such an opportunity or challenge arises.

2. Imagine a scenario in your life where you willingly embrace suffering and fear. Imagine not overcoming this fear by sheer will or force, but by surrendering to it and asking Jesus to guide you.

3. Have a conversation with Jesus about one area of your life where you’ve been avoiding doing the hard thing. What advice does He give you? What excuses do you lay at His feet in surrender?

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