29 May, 2018. Tue. of Week 8

1st Reading: 1 Peter (1:10-16)

The Passion of Christ was foretold. Christians are called to a holy life

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven נthings into which angels long to look!
Therefore prepare for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Resp. Psalm (Ps 98)

R./: The Lord has made known his salvation

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvellous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm. (R./)
The Lord has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel. (R./)
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise. (R./)

Gospel: Mark (10:28-31)

A rich reward in the life to come is promised for a life of service to the Gospel

Peter said to Jesus, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age נhouses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions נand in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”


Being ready for action

The encouraging style of pope Francis seems to echo the pastoral style of Saint Peter. In his pep-talk to the newly-baptised adults who must face the risks of living as Christians under the reign of mad, megalomaniac Nero, Peter urges them to “prepare for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace of Jesus Christ.” His epistle sets the bar of holiness very high for all the baptized. Much of what was said back at Vatican II about the universal Christian vocation to holiness and to a close, personal bond with Christ, was drawn from this simple, straightforward epistle. Peter’s message is felt by many to be more inspiring than any number of papal encyclicals and curial decrees in subsequent times, including our own, purporting to end debate on controversial issues of current concern. What would most benefit our Church today would be a candid return to those basic principles of Christian living, building on the centrality of the Risen Jesus. Theologians could then be allowed greater freedom to explore how this can shed light on the hot moral and social topics of today.
In the Gospel, Jesus promises a rich reward in the coming Kingdom of God to all who have given up comforts for his sake. Clearly Peter and the others are to follow the example of Our Lord, who identified with the poor, gravitated towards them and spoke up in their defence. The lifestyle of Gospel messengers will not be opulent, or even materially secure. Like Jesus, they will take risks when reaching out, even–literally or figuratively–”touch the leper” and be rendered unclean, unfit to share in temple ritual. Yet this option renders us holy with the Jesus who declared that “The last shall be first.” The “hundredfold” now in this age will presumably have to be taken in the sense of spiritual joy in doing worthwhile work, rather than as a promise of material wealth in this present life, pace our Calvinist brethren, some of whom still link Christian virtue too closely with material prosperity.

What about us, Lord?

Peter asked an honest question, “What about us? We have left everything and followed you.” Peter and the rest of the twelve had given up a great deal to become followers of Jesus. They sometimes wondered if it was really worth it all. We too have responded to the Lord’s call, though perhaps not in such a radical way as those first followers of Jesus, who left their livelihood and family for a very uncertain future. On our off days we might be tempted to ask as Peter did : “Is it worth the effort, this following of Jesus, this struggle to live by the values of the gospel day in and day out.”
The answer Jesus gives is that, “yes, it is worth the effort.” He promises that when we respond to his call and really give of ourselves for his sake, we will receive far more than we will give up. In particular we will gain a new experience of family, far beyond the confines of our blood family, the family of believers. We will find ourselves co-travellers with others who are trying like ourselves to live the Christian way. We will experience the richness of the church, the community of the Lord’s followers. That community embraces not only those of us still on our pilgrim way, but all who have passed beyond this life, including the saints, that “great cloud of witnesses.”

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