Today we honour the memory of Saint John Vianney, who struggled in his efforts to become a priest. Against all the odds he responded to God’s call and was reluctantly ordained to the priesthood. His bishop dispatched him to the most remote parish in the diocese where his holiness of life and sound preaching saved many souls. The Church honours him today as the patron of parish priests.
Shortly after Peter is praised for his confession of Jesus as the Christ, Our Lord rebukes him for trying to deter him from the Cross: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”
God will never ask anything of us without helping us carry it out. That’s why he has given us the Holy Spirit who is the source of all wisdom, the one who will guide us into all truth. He can direct our minds to think in the way that God thinks. Just look at the example of Peter. He was praised not for his own insights but for his openness to receive revelation from God: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Matthew 16:17). And if this could happen to Peter before Pentecost, then it can surely happen to us.
We live in what has been called the Information Age. I heard on the radio just this morning that the average person spends 25 hours a week on the internet. And yet so many people seem so deeply confused. What makes this more troubling is that much of the confusion is about the issues that matter the most: absolute truth, the dignity of human life, and even the very existence of God. With all this confusion in the atmosphere, and so much information at our fingertips, it’s no wonder that we can find it hard to sort out truth from falsehood.
We need to learn the same lesson that Our Lord gave Peter: the insight that we need comes from divine revelation, not from human reasoning alone. It was human reasoning that led Peter to try to turn Jesus from the Cross. Peter thought he was doing the right thing because he was looking at the Cross with human eyes. But over time Peter’s thoughts were transformed and he could write in his First Letter: “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Peter 4:13). God’s ways are not our ways, and there is no quick fix to thinking as God thinks. All we have to do is open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allow him to guide and direct us.