Today’s reading sandwiched between the Psalm and Gospel Acclamation:
Blessed be the God
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy
gave us a new birth
to a living hope
through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable,
undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God
are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed
in the final time.
It’s also a selection for the Pastoral Care rites. (Of course; otherwise, why would it be in this series?) Perhaps it gets overlooked in the drama of Thomas and the Johannine Pentecost experience. Maybe the echo of those Jerusalem communists rings a little uncomfortably in our ears. No matter. The author of 1 Peter reminds us that where Christ has gone, we follow. Things in the physical universe will wear out and through entropy, fade and die, whether it takes a human lifetime or the age of the universe. Our heritage of faith will never be the victim of a dead universe.
We are reminded that there is no glory without the cross:
In this you rejoice,
although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold
that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.
This is precisely where Jesus has gone. He preached it in his own life. He wasn’t soothsaying. He knew the bounds and faults of human nature. He preached liberation, healing, and mercy. The powers-that-be killed him for this. Were we to copy him, the more exact the imitation, the more serious the consequences.
That said, for a sick person, the suffering is due to some flaw in our physical make-up. If through an accident, we would know our bodies are not indestructible. If disease, the smallest things will lay us low. And if old age, we would be confronted with the entropy of a living thing. Much more short-lived than the quadrillions upon quadrillions of years of the universe. but real nonetheless.
As with other Easter season readings, this might be a good time of year to offer Saint Peter’s reminders to a seriously ill person. I find the wording of this opening blessing of his letter to be very stirring. At Mass this morning, I remembered I had placed this in the queue for early Easter posting. “Imperishable” stood out for me. Any of this for you readers?
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.