FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ASSAULTING THE ENEMY
August 4, 2016
Today’s gospel: Matthew 16:13-23
Jesus appoints Peter as the first head of his Church (v.18a). But what kind of Church is it? It is a missionary and victorious Church. Jesus says that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (v.18b). This is not to stay that the enemy forces cannot overwhelm the Church (which is true). Rather, it is to say that the enemy forces cannot withstand the assaults of the Church. Gates are for defense, not offense. In this passage, it is not the enemy assaulting the Church, but rather the Church assaulting the enemy, and its defensive gates will not stand.
Our Church is missionary. It is to go forth and engage the enemy, to assault its gates, to plunder its kingdom. This is the Church that Jesus has built. Its members are to be holy warriors.
We are at war. And war entails suffering. Jesus himself would “suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed” (v.21). If we do not understand the nature of the spiritual warfare that we engage in, then we might take the posture of Peter. “Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’” (v.22). Peter himself became the obstacle to mission. As such, he at that point was the enemy within.
Who are the enemy within? They might be “the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes” (read: leaders, bishops, theologians) who are into political correctness, not wanting to talk about and confront sin in the lives of people. As such, they are complicit in keeping people in their sins, and are not actively assaulting the dominion of the enemy. They might be those laypeople who are complacent, comfortable, lounging at the Country Club sipping piña coladas. They no longer go forth to engage the enemy. They might be the servant leaders who shun suffering and pain, and give up when the going gets tough.
They are the enemy! Jesus “turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.’” (v.23a).
Let us not be the enemy, but be the holy warriors we are called to be. Let us put on the mind of Christ, who is our Commander-in-Chief. Let us conform our lives to his ways. Let the Lord not rebuke us: “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (v.23b).
Though the enemy cannot prevail over the Church, there will be many Catholics who will be lost. We indeed are losing Catholics by the day–to the world, to sects and to cults. Part of this is our fault. We must understand our calling, and be the holy warriors we are called to be.
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