From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.
The confrontation between Jesus and Peter in this Gospel passage is of enormous depth. Perhaps the first thing that strikes us is the apparent harshness with which Jesus reacts to Peter’s suggestion. It seems that Peter was only trying to protect his Lord from the suffering and adversity that awaited Him in Jerusalem. He certainly had compassion on Him! But it is precisely at this point that the Lord teaches Peter a lesson.
God’s will may not always coincide with our human feelings and thoughts. We must discern and distinguish where there is human thinking and where there is the light of God. Human reason is nothing more than a natural light that enables us to understand the laws of nature and tells us how to deal with everything on the earthly plane. On the other hand, the supernatural light of faith, the light of the Holy Spirit, is necessary for a more precise understanding of God’s will.
In this particular situation, Peter was carried away by his human feelings and tried to influence the Lord. But Jesus points us to another dimension, warning us that the devil can hide behind human thoughts and use them to carry out his plans, and this is indeed a good hiding place for him, because at first glance human thinking seems reasonable and coherent, or, as in Peter’s case, even compassionate! But if we want to discover the will of God, these cannot be our criteria, because human thinking can even be contrary to the Holy Spirit.
Let us take a concrete example, which in these times is spreading even among Christians and is leading them into dangerous waters. In the context of the homosexual propaganda, which fights for the recognition of homosexual unions even as marriages, there are Christians who forget that homosexual acts are grave sins which endanger the eternal salvation of these people and cause them terrible psychological and spiritual damage. Any relativisation of homosexuality, or worse, support for this agenda for reasons of so-called tolerance, does not take into account the eternal salvation of man and the will of God. As much as it is right to treat homosexual people with respect and gentleness, trying patiently to lead them to the right path, it would be an enormous lack of charity not to tell them the truth or, worse still, to support the unhealthy situation in which they live.
If a Catholic were to say that homosexuality and homosexual acts are part of God’s plan, and even bless the union of two homosexual persons (as has unfortunately happened), he would be deceiving himself and others. He would be depriving the person in question of the possibility of reconsidering his situation in the light of the truth.
Moreover, there is another essential point to consider. It turns out that to make such a statement would be to put oneself in God’s place, because He has clearly said, both through His Word and through the teaching of the Church, that homosexual acts are sinful. If, God forbid, priests or even bishops up to the highest ecclesiastical hierarchy were to make such statements, the damage would be even more serious, since they are particularly committed to authentic teaching and its unadulterated transmission.
Such erroneous attitudes, which are unfortunately becoming more widespread in the Church, are disguised under the cloak of mercy. At the same time, those who stand firm in the doctrine of the Church and defend it are easily seen as rigorous and lacking in mercy.
Sadly, many other examples could be cited where there is a subtle deception of putting the human before the divine. In fact, this deception is a basic principle of how anti-Christian influence manifests itself.
We cannot turn the way of following Christ into a comfortable, softened life, removing all the challenges of the Gospel or watering them down to suit our standards. On the other hand, we cannot burden people more than they can bear (cf. Mt 23:4). Keeping this inner balance and discerning well is a spiritual work of art that the Holy Spirit will teach us!
But there is one fundamental certainty to which we must cling: with God’s grace and the decision of the will, it is always possible to avoid sin and to set out on the path of chastity. Even if it takes many and perhaps long struggles, one must always be clear about the goal: to return to God’s commandments. Everything else is an illusion!