1 Peter 1:3-9
Our Scripture readings for today complement each other as they both challenge and encourage us to live as disciples of Christ. In our Gospel reading, Jesus encounters a sincere man who wants to know how to “inherit eternal life” After the man tells Jesus that he has followed the Ten Commandments, Jesus, with love, invites him to go a step further. He tells him to sell what he has and give it to the poor, and then come and follow Him. Mark tells us that the man went away sad, “for he had many possessions.”
After this, Jesus shocks His disciples by telling them how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Many people at that time (and still many people today) believed that being rich meant that one was favored by God and well on their way to the kingdom. But Jesus, as He so often did, turns conventional wisdom on its head, and states the truth about how easy it is to put something like wealth or power before God.
In our first reading, the author encourages his fellow disciples, reminding them of the promise they have in Jesus Christ, even though they may be suffering “through various trials.” The author also says, “Although you have not seen him you love him…” Love is the key to discipleship and love and life. Otherwise, how could we give up what the world gives and serve others, as the rich man was called to do?
It is God’s love for us in Jesus Christ that can get us through the testing “by fire” and the suffering “for a little while.” It can get us through the times when we can’t feel that God is there for us. It can enable us to “rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy” that all the possessions in the world cannot give.
All this can seem beyond us, because it is. It is beyond us, but not beyond God. As Jesus tells us, “All things are possible for God.” And so, all things have become possible for us, though not by us. Thanks be to God!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.