This homily is based on Mark 8:27-35.
I found myself laughing out loud this Sunday morning over someone’s tweet. It was a short video clip of a girl applying for membership to a church group.
She aced the first question. Quizzed about “the one true God,” she answered with utter self-confidence: “The Father!”
But the second question, for some reason, stumped her: “Hanggang kelan ka mamamalagi sa Iglesia?” (“Up to when will you stay in our church?”)
She fell silent and couldn’t answer. Her friends tried to coach her by doing repeated throat slashes for the obvious answer: “Till death!” Prompted again for her answer and this time encouraged by her friends, the girl beamed at the camera and announced triumphantly: “Alam ko na! Hanggang leeg!” (“I got it! Up to the neck!”).
I think this short clip is a great segue to what today’s Sunday Gospel is about. After recognizing Jesus to be the Messiah, Simon Peter takes the Lord aside to convince him not to go ahead with his prophesied death. In response, the Lord gives him a most stinging response: “Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do!”
The reason why our Lord scolds Peter is that despite his good intentions, this leader of the Apostles is convincing him to “settle” and not to go all the way. Peter is asking Jesus to choose the lesser good. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with avoiding arrest and execution, but in this case, the Father’s Will for our Lord is to remain true to his teachings “till death”–not to be concerned with just saving his own neck.
Many times the temptations we face are not temptations to do what’s evil, but to choose the lesser good. It’s a subtle kind of temptation that the devil uses: We can always rationalize that the lesser good is not a sin. But there are times in our lives when God invites us to choose the greater good, even it may be painful.
Today let us be wary of the subtle temptation to choose the lesser good in our lives. Let us turn inward and dig up a desire to please the Lord–not just by doing the minimum requirement, but choosing the greater good and doing more for the Lord. In other words, let’s try to go all the way and not just settle. Or as the video clip puts it: “Till death and not just up to our neck!”