YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 18TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE BEAUTY AND POWER OF DISCERNMENT.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
Is it possible that satan could be speaking through a man of God? One big lesson our Gospel passage this morning teaches us is that we must never assume all our thoughts and inspirations are divinely inspired. As the saying goes, “not all that glitters is gold.”
Jesus was very impressed with Peter when he correctly answered a question of his true identity so much so that Jesus said: “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” Matthew 16:17-18.
For Jesus, anyone who is capable of hearing things from God is capable of handling the position of leadership. Peter was made the head of the apostles not because of his age, not because of his academic qualifications, not because of his international connections, not even because of his ethnic origin but because God revealed certain truths to him.
However, few moments after Jesus had made Peter head, Jesus turned around to say to the same Peter: “Get behind me Satan…” Jesus was not addressing Peter as a person, rather he was addressing the very source of Peter’s inspiration. For Peter to attempt to discourage Jesus from suffering and death, Jesus could see that satan was now using Peter as a mere mouthpiece, thanks to the power of discernment.
Dear friends, just as we cannot prevent God from speaking to us, we cannot also prevent satan from speaking to us. Nevertheless, we have the power to recognize the difference between the both. This power is called discernment and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It was with discernment that Jesus knew God revealed His identity to Peter, it was still with discernment that Jesus knew satan was speaking through Peter.
It may shock you to know some of the things we describe as “divine revelations” may be clear-cut satanic suggestions and that even persons who find themselves in very highly placed ecclesiastical positions are not immune from falling prey so such. Prayer is the key. Motivation also matters, hence our psalmist today sings “create in me a pure heart, O God.”
When one’s heart is not pure, say, for instance, the man of God desires pleasure or material comfort, he begins to receive funny revelations such as telling people to drop their car keys and go home empty or that they should clear their accounts for him. I don’t believe God will ever reveal such, instead, it is greed disguising as God’s voice. Even when Jesus asked the rich young man to sell all his possessions, Jesus added: “and give it to the poor, then come follow me.” Jesus did not say, “Bring everything to me!” So Yes, satan can actually speak through a man of God.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, impart in me the power of discernment. Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:12-19, Matthew 16:13-23).