“Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord!’”
God forbid that something bad happen to someone good! God forbid, Lord! And that is the remarkable life of Jesus Christ.
After I had finished officiating at a wedding ceremony, a man came up to me and told me that it had been years since he had stepped inside a Catholic Church; actually, any Church. I asked him why without even asking his name. He told me his story. He had attended Catholic schools all his life. He even graduated from a Catholic University. He would go on retreats often, even to adoration. In fact, one time, while in adoration, he had a mystical experience that changed his life, and this happened while he was going through some tough times. But then he began to doubt, doubt everything, including his personal experience with God. He said, “How could I place so much trust in God based on one unexplainable phenomenon or dream like experience. So, I decided to take a chance. I decided one day to no longer go to Church. I was told my world would collapse; that great evils would begin to rain upon me. I thought that God would strike me down. I thought that maybe my wife or my children would be taken away from me. I thought I would even lose my job! But you know what? Nothing happened. I don’t even feel sad or bad about not going to Church anymore. ”
I told him flat out, “Who taught you your faith...Where in the world did you get this idea? In this life, you can choose a wide or narrow path. The wide path is spacious, open and very accommodating. You can live however you want. You can do whatever you want. You can be whoever you want to be. You are the Master of your will. But in the end, it leads to nothing, a dead end, a meaningless and purposeless existence for you may be the master of your will, but you are not the master of your fate. The narrow path is anything but spacious, it is restricted but not constricted, it is a path that continually reminds me of who I am, a creature, and not the Creator. This path is for those who choose to find someone, someone that is greater than anything they could ever think of themselves. Walking this path is like dancing in a romance. I join my hands to His hands; I settle my eyes upon His eyes, and I place my will to His Will. I allow myself to be surprised.”
Finally, with regards to his decision to no longer attend Church, I mentioned to him that I would have predicted just the opposite. Rather than catastrophes, I would have expected his bank account to grow, and his wife, life and children to be picture perfect. After all, you get what you deserve. If you can’t get anything after this life, then you will strive for it in this life.
If I can’t live beyond myself, then I will settle for just myself. How boring! Our world is a modern world and it is utterly boring. It unleashes vices in order to excite, but it also unleashes virtues that surprise. The more people fall into vice, the more people will rise in virtue. Christ suffered and died a painful and excruciating death in a time when life was carefree and pleasurable for many. His response to Peter is revealing, “Get behind me Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
The problem with the world is that very few are willing to think like God, and be surprised by faith.