For as many times as I have heard this Gospel passage, I have been challenged by the same question Jesus poses to his beloved apostles: “But who do you say that I am?”
And like the apostles, it is easy to spout off several correct answers, but if we let that question marinate within us, it can be a powerful tool for examining our own hearts.
In fact, this is painfully obvious as Peter had the best answer, and a minute later is rebuked for “thinking as human beings do.”
Thinking as Human Beings Do…
We human beings are so well trained to focus on the correct answers, that we can fail to ask ourselves if we really believe it, and if we do believe it, do we actually live it. It is easy for me to state that God’s divine will alone is what matters, but quite another thing to live by that truth. There exists for us this disparity at times between what we know to be right or what we should do and how we actually live. This is part of our human condition, and it would do us no good to just pretend “we are there” or try to white knuckle or will ourselves to believe and live by it. Trying to use our own human will to force us into living God’s will is really an exercise in futility at best or at worst an exercise of pride.
The fact remains that all growth in our hearts comes directly from God’s grace. We must live with the conviction that is NOT about self-reliance but rather about Spirit-Reliance. Yes, this definitely requires our cooperation; however, it is not merely a submission, but rather an active fiat, “Yes, Lord, whatever you want, I want!”
This is quite challenging in the face of serious illness, issues with our children, times of financial crisis, or other kinds of difficulties.
If an adult son or daughter has walked away from the faith, can we give that situation our fiat? And if we do, what are we really saying yes too?
Thinking as God Does…
No, we are not saying we are glad for the crisis, tragedy, or poor choices of others, but we are saying “YES, my God, I trust you even in the face of these circumstances that I do not understand. I know your goodness and love will prevail. I trust in You, despite all external signs, because You are a good, good Father. You are all powerful, and I ‘know that all things work for good for those who love God’” (Rom. 8: 28). These are powerful promises He gives us just as He gave Noah in the first reading. We can trust in His promises, and we cannot let the world distract us from this.
Thinking as God does ultimately means looking up to Him as our Papa and telling Him, “I am all in!”
Having the right answers is just the beginning. That part starts in the head. We need to let these truths filter down into our hearts and allow them to form our wills. Slowly, our hearts, minds, and wills, by His grace alone, will be purified and integrated so we are no longer living fragmented lives, but rather whole ones in His Loving Will.