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Can you believe in Jesus and reject the logic of the cross?

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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 08/04/22

We must read the story of Peter's confession of faith in its entirety to find the answer.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:15-18

The passage in Matthew’s Gospel describing Peter’s profession of faith should always be read in its entirety. We could be tempted to stop simply at the gift given to the apostle of responding with the right answer to Christ’s question; “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’”

But the extraordinary gift given to him does not shield him from the worldly reasoning that he continues to follow. Indeed, all Jesus had to do was bring up the subject of the cross to immediately trigger Peter’s reaction of rejection: “Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’”

From that time on, 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.

Matthew 16:21-23

Can one believe in Jesus and reject the logic of the cross? To do so is actually to have a diabolical faith: “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.’” Diabolical literally means “divided.” It’s like a person wanting to improve his physical condition but without accepting the effort of going to the gym. In a case like this, one’s desire is pitted against one’s practical choices.

Accepting the cross doesn’t mean loving suffering, but making choices that are consistent with our great desires.

We very often live by this logic. Accepting the cross doesn’t mean loving suffering, but making choices that are consistent with our great desires. Jesus loved us and as a consequence gave himself up to death on the cross. How could we forbid him to give his life for love of us? Can we say to one who loves, “Love, but without committing yourself?” Such love would only be a vacuous word and not a fact that saves us. There is still a long path to be walked by Peter (and us). 

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GospelSpiritual Life
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