Wrestling with God

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Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Mark 8:27-33

Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the source of life-giving faith. Grant me an always deeper and trusting faith in you. 


Encountering Christ:


  1. Getting at the Source: While faith is a human act requiring our assent and profession, it is also a gift from God. In Matthew’s account of the same event, Jesus responded to Peter’s profession of faith by saying, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). And Saint Paul reminds us that “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The source of our faith is God himself. And the gift of faith that he offers us leads us back to him, the source and end of our life. It does not seem like a coincidence that Jesus led the apostles toward Caesarea Philippi, a symbolic reminder of the source of life. Caesarea Philippi is known for its water springs. That source water flows into the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee, providing life-giving waters for most of the Holy Land. It would also become the place where Jesus would later tell Peter, upon this rock I will build my Church, the Church being the source of life-giving “waters” by her sacraments.


  1. The Invitation to a Deeper Faith: Jesus elicits faith and we can sometimes think that we have arrived at the fullness of wisdom. Yet, when we seek to understand and our human comprehension still falls short, we need to trust in that which is revealed. Peter had this experience. He proudly and confidently professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, but when Jesus threw in the unthinkable, Peter rejected it. Jesus’s suffering and death was beyond his comprehension. Peter had to first walk through the mystery that Jesus revealed before he could understand. The same happens in our life. Can you think of a moment when faith and trust in God’s plan was strengthened only by walking through suffering, darkness, the cross?


  1. Reconfiguring Expectations: Peter teaches us that the road to deep and trusting faith is long and arduous, and we make mistakes along the way. In this passage, Peter was rebuked when he did not accept how Jesus planned to carry out his role as Messiah. At the Last Supper, he zealously insisted that Jesus perform the ritual of washing in a particular way (John 13:9). Peter still couldn’t accept the fate of the Messiah when he saw him bound and on trial. And as tradition relates, he initially rejected even God’s plan for him to remain in Rome when his life was being threatened. In each moment, Peter had to reconfigure his own expectations of who God was and how God’s plan would be fulfilled. But each time he confronted his weakness of faith, it was strengthened by “wrestling with God”.


Conversing with Christ: Jesus, conform my mind and heart to your most holy will. Help me to trust and believe that your plan will be fulfilled, despite the limits of my comprehension.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make spiritual communions to unite myself to you and your Mystical Body, the Church.


For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church on faith as a gift, a human act, and faith seeking understanding, nn. 153-158.

Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala.

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