Christ in today’s gospel does not exalt suffering for the sake of suffering. The temptation of a Christian is a Christianity without a cross. That is why Peter’s reaction to Christ: “Then Peter took him aside and began to annoy him. Peter imagines that Jesus, feeling strongly the hostility he is subjected to, has let himself be discouraged. Certainly, it had nothing to do with this and that is why Peter says to him: “Lord God forbid that this should happen to you!”.
Christ treats Peter as He did with Satan, the tempter in the desert. Without realizing it, Peter was trying to take Christ away from his duty. But Peter loved Him so much. Sometimes friends are not always clairvoyant in their demonstrations of sympathy, and Peter will do so again when, guided by his affection for Jesus, he takes the courtyard of the praetorium prisoner, where he will deny him again. That can happen to us and it may be happening to us right now.
Peter took Jesus away from the path laid out for him by his Father in heaven. Christ says to Peter, “Get out of my way, you are useless, you are hiding. Poor Peter, he thought he was doing good, as sometimes happens to us with Christ, we believe that what we do is for Christ, but there is always something of ours there, and that is what happened to Peter, apart from the fear that anything would happen to Christ in Jerusalem.
A short time had passed when Simon declared: “You are the Son of the living God! We must realize that he had said this expression only a short time before and soon after he was speaking in a different way and Christ makes him recognize it immediately as it happens to us and we have to accept that correction of love that Christ makes to us, sometimes every day.
In that moment Peter speaks inspired by the Father, when he says: “You are the Son of the living God,” in the face of Christ’s question: “Who do you say that I am, and what do you say? Of course, Peter at that moment does not speak as a simple man, but inspired by the Father. Sometimes we have this double aspect.
In spite of those harsh words of Christ to Peter, Christ knew very well all the goodness of Peter, that’s why later he is going to appoint him head of the Church. Peter’s mistake is to let himself be dominated by the first impulse, as something instinctive, which did not pass through the silence of prayer. It is also something that Christ is saying to us: ‘Let us not be spontaneous, that spontaneity that can be brutal, all has to pass through silence, through reflection’.
The scandal was not that Peter incited the apostles to evil but that with his words he avoided or moved him away from good, from the exercise of good. Letting us be carried away by sentimentalism, which is what happened to Peter. This fact must move us not to be impulsive, to be reflective. For example, the word scandal that Christ uses also with respect to Peter, we know that its meaning, the origin was the obstacle that was put to the horses to be caught and practically died, because their legs were totally defective. EThese were the obstacles. Today it has passed almost entirely to the moral field.
The Law of Moses, for example, forbade placing scandals, that is, obstacles in the path of a blind man, a stone, a rope, that would make him stumble and fall. So when Christ says that we are a blind man leading another blind man, He is talking about the blind sometimes being put obstacles to fall. Scandal is an occasion to fall. It is a scandal to say something that inclines the other to do evil or to prevent him from doing good, and this was really Peter’s fault.
Christ in the beatitudes, which is his own doctrine, urges us to take up the cross of everyday difficulties and follow him and ‘what are the obstacles in the way of love or holiness?’ Envy, jealousy, pride, selfishness, not knowing how to ask for forgiveness, recklessness, etc. Those are the obstacles we put in the way and cause us to fall in the moral field and in the spiritual field. With prayer, with the Eucharist and living the gospel, these obstacles disappear.