Stumbling Stone

Stumbling Stone

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

August 30, 2020

Matthew 16:21-27

Last Sunday, we listen to the confession of Peter on the true identity of Jesus. Here, Simon received a new name, the keys of the kingdom and the authority to bind and to loosen. He became the prime minister of the kingdom, the first pope. However, today, we witness the dramatic turn around. When Jesus foretold about His incoming passion, Simon reactively put his Master aside, and rebuked Him. As a response, Jesus expressed harshly,
“Get away behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling stone to me!”

Last episode, Simon was Peter, and today, Simon is “Satan.” Last week, Simon was the foundational rock, and today, Simon is the stumbling stone. Previous story, Simon was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and now, he is thinking his self-interest.

To call Simon that he was “Satan” is unexpected, but not uncalled-for. Perhaps Jesus would like to point out that Peter’s action was influenced by the devil himself.  Often, we think that the evil spirits influence us in the case of diabolic possessions, but in reality, diabolic possessions are an extraordinary way of attacking us. There is an ordinary way: it is through temptations and inducing ideas that oppose to the plan of God. The real battle takes place not so much in the possession of our bodies, but of our minds and souls.

Peter is also called as the stumbling stone, and in Greek, it is “scandalon.” Last Sunday, he was given a new identity, Peter, the foundation rock, but now, he turns to be a stumbling stone. Both are stone, but two opposing purposes. The foundation rock is to support the Church and God’s will, but the stumbling stone is to stop or at least, to obstruct and slow down God’s will. Jesus has set his eyes on Jerusalem, to offer His life as sacrifice on the cross and gloriously rise from the death. Yet, Simon, the stumbling stone, tried to oppose and prevent Jesus from fulfilling His Father’s will. Interesting enough, the word “Satanas” in Greek, may mean ‘the adversary.’  Simon becomes the adversary against Jesus’ mission.

Last week, I reflect on the mission of Simon Peter and how we become little Peters as God calls us for particular vocation and service despite our unworthiness. However, Jesus tells us that the real hindrance to our mission is not our weakness and unworthiness, but our selfish interest and agenda. Instead saying, “Your will be done,” we shout, “My will be done.” This is the devil’s game plan, that we put ourselves first, rather than God. Some of us are ordained priests, yet instead serving the people with dedication, we are busy to seek comfort and amass fortune for ourselves. Some of us are parents, yet instead bringing our children to God, we are preoccupied in chasing our own ambitions and careers.

Thus, Jesus makes a bold reminder, “what is the point of gaining the whole world and yet losing our souls?” At the gate of heaven, St. Simon Peter will ask us, “Have you been a stumbling stone to God’s will or have your been a foundation rock to His plan?”

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

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