The words of Jesus to Peter are all too familiar to us. “You”re thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” It’s so easy – perhaps, too easy – for us to understand the brief monologue from Jesus to Peter. Poor Peter, he was so dense. He just didn’t understand. And yet… would we have understood? Do we, today, understand the difference between the way God thinks and the way we think? That’s impossible! St. Paul quotes Isaiah’s famous words in one of his letters when he asks, “Who can know the mind of God or who has been His counselor?” So what do I do, simply go my merry way “thinking as a human being” or do I sincerely and prayerfully try to discern God’s Will?
We have to be very careful in discerning the Will of God because it is easy for us to fall into the trap of “anthropomorphism.” What is that!, you say? It is a thousand-dollar word that describes our humanistic tendency to humanize God. It is our natural inclination to assume that God thinks as we do, or, better still, to humanize God’s thought process by implanting our own thoughts into our perception of Him. This may sound like high and mighty theology and philosophy, neither of which most of us have been schooled in, and yet, it is exactly the thought process in which most of the saints engaged in their own personal quest for holiness. Granted, it is not something that comes easy or naturally but that is no reason to not try.
Each of us can identify those times when we were faced with the impossible, or what seemed impossible. Mary and I have just spent seven days first in Florence and now in Rome (I am writing this on Monday, Aug. 28) and, during each of those days as we walked from place to place or took one of the busses, we made a wrong turn and found ourselves not sure of where we were or which way/street we needed to take. It’s easy to do in these cities where no two streets are parallel. We did not give up, obviously. We asked people using our very weak language skills, we learned new words and found new ways and little by little became more familiar with the cities and their streets. Our Faith journey is no different. We try, we make mistakes, we get lost and then we pause, pray and ask for directions and little by little we find our way. It’s a wonderful and beautiful life-long experience leading to holiness and I feel so sorry for those who don’t even try!