1Pt 1:10-16; Ps 98:1-4; Mk 10:28-31
“In the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.”
Entire nations and whole countries are commanded to break into song and to sing praise! Why? The LORD has done wondrous deeds; the LORD has won victory with his holy arm—with his outstretched arm. In the sight of the nations God has revealed his justice. In the sight of the nations he has made his salvation known. The wondrous deeds of the exodus and the exile have given the very ends of the earth a glimpse of the salvation the LORD has in mind for the whole human race. In remembering his kindness and faithfulness toward the house of Israel, the LORD has revealed how he wants to relate with every tribe and nation. From the earliest days of revelation to the house of Israel, it was expected to display for all the world to see: the holiness and faithfulness of the LORD, God Almighty. In hearing the stories of wondrous deeds and the songs of glorious victories from the history of Israel, many people and many nations would come to know his salvation. This is the meaning of our summons to holiness that Saint Peter writes about in today’s first reading. This summons is reaffirmed in today’s Eucharist which is calling us to a renewal of our Baptism and Confirmation so that we might never hesitate to sing the song of His salvation and to tell the story of His victory even when we must deal with contradiction and ridicule in order to give witness to the truth of the Gospel.
In every generation the prophets summoned God’s People back to covenant relationship. This same call to holiness is the preoccupation of the New Testament prophets as well. It seems that Saint Peter is affirming this prophetic spirit among the churches who would read his first letter. The focus of the Old and New Testament prophets has been and must continue to be the suffering and the glory of the Lord Christ. Such has been the preaching content of those who proclaim the good news in the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed without the person and power of the Spirit the good news cannot be proclaimed nor can anyone’s heart be opened and receive the gospel mysteries; “into these matters angels long to search.” Saint Peter’s call to gird the loins of our understanding, to live soberly and to set our hope on the Holy Spirit, who will enable us to become holy as Christ is holy. As obedient sons and daughters, we are to let go of all that keeps us from being consumed in the divine fire of love. All our desires that have deceived us into finding our delight in sin and selfishness must be discarded, denied, and defeated in Christ the Risen and Ascended Lord. This is the witness and working of the Holy Spirit in the depths of our hearts. In the Spirit we become convinced of our freedom from sin and death and we have the gifts to share such good news with the whole world.
This mystery of total self-giving we celebrate each year on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, our next Sunday Feast. Yet, it is a mystery that we are expected to reveal each day of our lives. Those around us each day are supposed to be getting a glimpse of the mystery of God because of the mystery of our generous self-giving. As we hear in today’s gospel, “no one who has given up…will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” The Lord Jesus is not pampering Saint Peter or his brothers; nor is he pampering us at this age in the history of discipleship. To follow Jesus is a life of sacrifice with abundant rewards and persecutions too. What persecutions do we endure? We who respect human life from its beginning to its natural end—we are ridiculed for being “out of touch with the rights of women.” We who honor the body both our own and others—we are ridiculed for being “too puritanical, cold and unloving.” We who love the Lord more than anyone or anything—we are ridiculed for not “living in the real world.” Our ancestors were constantly in danger of not only ridicule; they had their very lives threatened for being disciples of Jesus Christ. We can expect nothing less. They found new family, new homes, and new security in the fellowship of believers, but that did not eliminate the reality of persecutions. We may well be last, the lowest in the eyes of the rich and powerful, the popular and prosperous, but we are first in the eyes of the LORD who searches the heart. Each time we celebrate these mysteries here and in the sacrifice of taking up our cross, we are first in the eyes of the LORD. Like the holy one who first called us to receive the full self-gift of himself in the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Eucharist; this is the One sent from the Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit both now and forever.