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Fr. Dave's Notes

Thinking as God does

“Get behind me, you Tempter, for you are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do.” (Mark 8.33)

This rebuke came after Peter first recognized Jesus as the Messiah, but then reprimanded Jesus for openly saying that he will be betrayed, falsely judged, tortured and killed. It didn’t strike me as odd that Peter thought that way, since Peter, like each of us, is a human being and that is, as a matter of fact, how human beings think. Humanly speaking, who wants all of that?

So while we humans might want to skip the passion, the hard and unpleasant part of our life, Jesus is saying that God sees things otherwise. Jesus seems to say that death and all it entails for a human being must happen before the gift of rising can be bestowed. We can’t skip this unpleasant step.

And there are other instances where human thinking conflicts with Divine thinking. For example, regarding friends and enemies and how to treat them. We honor friends in speech and action, going out of our way to affirm and support them. But humanly speaking, it is quite different with non-friends or enemies. Negative thoughts and often damaging words and actions present themselves. But Jesus says, “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.” How am I doing on that?

Actually, Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus challenges each of his followers to consider how, in fact, he or she thinks about and acts towards the “other,” the “neighbor.”  All neighbors. Of every kind. In every condition. This is a challenge for, humanly speaking, we tend to divide our race into groups -- religious groups, ethnic groups, economic groups, social groups and we group who’s productive and who isn’t .We make a lot of distinctions and treat people accordingly. But Jesus doesn’t speak of such groups; he asks us to embrace universal kinship. Universal. Everyone. God thinks of us as all his beloved children. God makes none of our human distinctions. No one has to prove him/herself to be blessed. Salvation is not merit-based.

Lent is coming. It is a time offered us each year for reflection on and re-assessment of our inner habits and choices in the light of Gospel teachings. This is serious and sobering business; a lot rides on how we go about this task.

Nonetheless, in chiding Peter, Jesus didn’t just rebuke him and leave him in a bad space. No, the Good News here is that Jesus is pointing out the limits of our natural ways of thinking and behaving; he is telling Peter (and us): “Listen to me; I can divinize your human ways. You can become more than just human.”

So as Lent approaches, let us ask ourselves questions about how well we are cooperating in God’s divinization project. How well are we letting go of our limited human ways of thinking and beginning to think of the word and everyone in it as God sees it.

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