Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Luke 9:18-22)
In the middle of the Cold War a Catholic Navy officer was serving as the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion on a nuclear submarine. His conscience began to trouble him as he contemplated being part of a missile launching that killed millions of people. He was eventually allowed to resign his commission. Although the stance seems extreme, it is certainly in line with the way Jesus sees himself.
The gospel today shows Jesus asking his disciples whom they think that he is. It is the Lucan rendition of the same scene that appears in the Gospels according to Mark and Matthew. In all cases Peter responds that Jesus is the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah who was to lead the Jews to freedom and dignity among the nations. In Luke, however, Jesus' response is fast and furious. He rebukes all the disciples (Peter is only acting as their spokesman), perhaps telling them to keep such ideas to themselves. As the other gospels in their own way make clear, Jesus does not want to be associated with a warrior-Messiah. He is a man of peace who comes to proclaim God's love, not to whip anyone into shape.
The Church has never forbidden Christians from serving in the military and going to war if necessary. Yet certainly Christian thought and practice is conditioned by Jesus foregoing any identification of a warrior. He is identified in the Scripture as the Prince of Peace. As his faithful servants, we strive to keep the peace and to limit injury in warfare.