Thursday 5th August 2021. Numbers 20:1-13, Psalm 95 and Matthew 16:13-23

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (Matthew 16:23).

In the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus wanted to know who amongst His disciples was capable of assuming a position of leadership so He asked them: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” The disciples gave various answers. Jesus asked them another question: “Who do you say that I am?” All the disciples were silent except for Peter who said. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

For answering correctly, Jesus made Peter the head of the church. “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:17-18).

Peter did not waste any time in taking full responsibility for his new office. The moment he heard Jesus speak about having to suffer many things (and be killed but that he would rise again on the third day), he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. “God forbid, Lord! This shall not happen to you.” Jesus 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.”

Jesus addressed Satan directly because He knew that this time around, it was the Satan speaking through him. How did it happen that Peter could be inspired by the Holy Spirit and within a few minutes still speak under the influence of Satan? I really get scared each time I reflect on this passage. If this can happen to Peter, it can happen to any church leader. No one is above temptation. This is why it is absolutely important that we pray for our leaders.

Apart from the fact that as church leaders, we are prone to temptations, we could also become frustrated by our flock as we see in today’s first reading. Moses was completely fed up by the people’s constant complaining. (Like a parish priest whose parishioners criticize a lot). The Israelites complained bitterly about water in the wilderness of Zin. Moses was so fed up that he didn’t pay attention to God’s instruction. Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses poured out his anger by striking the rock twice with his rod.

Frustration can cause many things. Pray for your leaders. Support and encourage them. Even though they do the work of angels, they are humans too. 

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, fill us with your Holy Spirit, save us from utterances and actions that betray our identity. Amen.  

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of week 18 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Numbers 20:1-13, Psalm 95 and Matthew 16:13-23).