Faith to Sustain Us – Br. Michael Hardgrove
The gospel reading today reminds us that God’s plan is greater than our own, and that faith in our Messiah will sustain us. Peter’s understanding of Jesus’ role as Messiah is completely upended when Jesus tells of the suffering, rejection, and death that He must face in order to fulfill his mission. Peter understood the Messiah to be a great king, who would free the Israelites from Roman occupation, and usher in a golden age for his people. But God’s plan for Peter and his people would not include the things that Peter so desperately longed for, and yet, the message of our Gospel is the good news that that God’s plan for restoring a divided and broken world is far greater than we can imagine. Paradoxically, we sometimes need to let go of our previous understandings, resting in the hope that we are an intrinsic part of the unfolding of God’s kingdom.
As Christians we seek to understand who Jesus is, and to trust in His plan for us, even when it flies in the face of what we expect, or of what we want. We seek to understand in truth, and not only from our limited human perspective, so that we avoid the error of “setting our mind not on divine things but on human things,” as Jesus says when he rebukes Peter. This is not easy to digest, because it means that our faith alone is sometimes all that we have to sustain us, to guide us along the right path. A life of faith is a life of continual growth, but not necessarily in the way we want or expect. God’s way is greater than our own, and divine things will always be beyond our comprehension. We can’t truly know what God is up to in our lives, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take part in the divine plan for the renewal of all of God’s creation.
There is an incredible power and freedom that comes with our faith that Jesus Christ is the Messiah; it allows us to approach him in prayer with the assurance that our prayers are heard, and that we never struggle in vain. We so desperately long to do God’s will—and we so desperately long for God. Our desire to do God’s will is a sure sign that we are on the right track, even if we can’t figure out all the details. To trust Jesus, to know that God will never abandon us, to know that Christ’s plan for us is greater, better, fuller than our own; is essential to a life of faith. Like Peter, we don’t know exactly how God is using us to bring about His kingdom. And like Peter, Jesus will continually reveal himself to us in greater ways, if we are open to His message. We look to Jesus, and believe that our efforts are all done in the hope of His death and resurrection, born out of a mercy that is beyond our ability to fathom. We are the sacred children of God, and we put our hope in His son, the Messiah, the savior of the world.
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Dear Br. Michael, Thank you for not gendering God. Letting ‘God’ be greater than we can know. It fits so much better than a gendered God when in the news today they are describing new results from the James Webb telescope. describing things 13.67 billion light years ago contiguous with the big bang. It keeps God available to me. Thank you. margo