In this Sunday's gospel lesson Jesus tells Peter to keep quiet until he more fully understands the truth at the heart of who Jesus is and what he is doing. The truth of the cross. Jesus calls the truth of the cross a stumbling block or scandalon. On this scandal he builds his church. It seems counter intuitive that something so reprehensible and repulsive should be at the center of our faith and life. But it is so important to Jesus that he tells his foremost follower to keep silence until he fully grasps this hard truth.
What makes the cross so essential? One way to put it might be that at the cross the believer must accept the impossibility of saving or perfecting herself. She can only wonder in and give thanks and praise for the perfect divine love poured out on the cross. Perfect, saving forgiveness and grace flow from the blood of the Lamb. New life comes to the world. From the cross the believer then begins to follow in the example of God's great humility to serve, forgive and love others with all that we are and all that we have.
I am reminded that to keep the scandal, the stumbling block of the cross, in mind, Abba Agathon carried a pebble around in his mouth for three years until he learned to be silent and simply to show forth his humble thanks and praise in his life. Perhaps silent wonder, thanks, and praise are surely the most authentic response we can make. Why not take a moment of silence now to turn in heart and mind to the cross, and take a breath, and begin again with wonder love and praise to follow our Lord.