We know that when the center does not hold, everything crumbles and disintegrates. The brain is the engine of the body; when it loses its coordination, the person loses balance and so develops all kinds of mental problems. Parents form the center of a family unit. When they fail to work together, it is hard to hold the family together. But it takes hard work and often painful sacrifices and tough decisions to keep it together.
Jesus asked the disciples in this weekend’s gospel (Mk 8.27-35) who they think he is, after inquiring about what others say about him. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ of God, which means, the Messiah or the Anointed One, the Great Liberator, the Center of the World, and the Center of our lives. As the Liberator, God’s Anointed One, He has come to put us together, to rescue us from the dispersion we have brought upon ourselves and upon the world by following unhelpful philosophies and ideologies. This liberation involves a transformation of consciousness in which we change our vision of ourselves and the world. We are not the center of the world; God in His Christ is the Center of the world. Things will continue to go wrong in our lives, relationships, and the world, until we begin to get reconnected to the Center of the Universe and the Center of our lives, Jesus the Christ.
When we see truly that He is the Center, we begin to realize that we are all related: different children of the same Father. When we do not see that Jesus, the Christ is the Center, we live and act so independent of God and each other. And this is what causes so much pain and confusion in our lives and in our relationships. It is basically a declaration of separation from God. If we “see” that Christ, the Anointed One, is the center, and that we cannot survive outside of Him, we begin to live. He had told us that we cannot live without him (Jn. 15.5). We come to this deepened awareness of our rootedness in God through a constant and consistent prayer life.
When Peter professed Jesus as the Christ, our Liberator and Center, Jesus began to tell the disciples that He was going to suffer, for the Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests, those experts in Jewish religion, would not accept that truth. Peter wanted Him to avoid that painful road to death, but He was not going to follow Peter’s well-intentioned but misguided advice. Jesus described Peter’s advice as Satanic (Mk. 8.33). Hmm!
“Satan” is anything or any suggestion that tries to take us away from our Center, which is God in His Christ. It could be an inner voice or persons that discourage you from reaching out to some people, forgiving past hurt, giving someone a second chance, excusing yourself or another of a misstep, seeking the good of another; it could be cynical or skeptic voices that mock you for being a devout Christian who goes to Church at least every Sunday; it could be the wayward voice that suggests you pursue selfish desires and put aside your commitment to your spouse and children or waste your money on useless pursuits.
Anything that threatens your connection to the Center could be regarded as Satanic. And it needs to be faced head-on to avoid great havoc. That is what Jesus did.
Do you really feel this deep connection to God? Do you feel your life is held together or somewhat scattered? This is a moment of grace God provides you to pay attention to your heart, and how your entire life feels. The Lord is with you as you do so.