Centering Prayer: A Prayer by St. Anselm of Canterbury
Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me as I seek;
for unless you instruct me I cannot seek you,
and unless you reveal yourself I cannot find you.
Let me seek you in desiring you; let me desire you in seeking you.
Let me find you in loving you; let me love you in finding you.
Scripture: Today’s reading is from Gospel of Mark 8:31-33
Then he (Jesus) began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
This is the first of Jesus’ three “passion predictions” in the gospel of Mark (8:31; 9:31; 10:33). When I think about Jesus’ terse, blunt, and open teaching in this gospel text, I become conflicted. Like Peter, I too set my mind on human things instead of the things of God. At times my attachment to human things sets internal limits and parameters to how much or how far I am willing to give myself for God’s purposes when what Christ asks of me begins to encroach on my human commitments and desires.
This story conflicts me because I all too often identify with Peter when I assert a claim to my own wants and desires and tell Jesus, “I don’t want to hear about humility, suffering, rejection, and death from you, Jesus!” In truth, I’d rather hear of how Jesus can make my life better, bless me, make my life easier and less painful, less stressful, successful, and more self-fulfilling. All this talk about suffering, rejection, and death is contrary to what is generally defined as the good life.
I’m also like Peter because I’ve been put in my place by Jesus more times than I can remember. Sometimes Jesus is gentle with me, sometimes stern. Whatever the case, I ultimately come to set aside what I want and seek God’s grace to accept the path Jesus calls me to walk.
Mark Twain was right when he said, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” I know what Twain meant, and I know what Jesus means by setting my mind on human things instead of the things of God; that’s my Lenten conflict; perhaps it is yours too.
Questions for Reflection: