Dear Brothers and Sisters,
How did Peter know that we have a voice inside of us that tells us to do this and don’t do that, avoid this person and don’t think yourself better than that one. Does he know this because he is the first apostle, the leader of the gang or does he know it because of his own sins? I think you know the answer. He had to learn it by his mistakes. Our conscience is this voice deep inside of us; it is in our DNA and hopefully was strongly reinforced by our parents. However, when things don’t go our way we can get resentful and easily avoid listening to this voice. Peter (3: 15-18) is encouraging his fellow Christians to stay the course, even when they are being persecuted or spoken against.
A priest friend of mine told a group of high school kids who were complaining about their family that he was an orphan and people used to make fun of him. In a sense we are all orphans as we hear in the gospel (John 14: 15-21) and our tendency is to think the others have a better life than mine, but it is not true. Providentially, this friend of mine was adopted by a Catholic family who raised him well and made it possible for him to be in the Church and see his vocation. He was given a second chance. Of course there are sufferings in life but St. Peter tells us that we always have to be ready to give a reason for our hope. This is especially true in this pandemic where many are afraid or depressed or see no hope. It doesn’t have to be a theological explanation, only how we were lost and then through God’s grace came we were found.
The marks on those who are persecuted for the faith remain forever; they are like the glorious wounds of Christ. They show us the Kingdom and it will be more and more difficult to avoid persecution these days as the world turns more secular. Pope Benedict XVI said something similar in the new book to be released in English in the fall. He said he didn’t have the wherewithal to fight against this dictatorship of false humanistic ideas, where it became more and more difficult to speak of Christian ideals, such as marriage between a man and a woman, natural conception by an act of love, not manufactured in a lab, etc.
The Fathers of the Church said it is fitting for the Holy Spirit to be given to the apostles who were cleansed by the Passion and were going out to encounter great dangers by preaching a Risen Christ. There were going to need another Advocate, Christ was the first one but he has to be leaving soon. He promised that he “will come to you.” He is not referring to the end of time, but that he will come to dwell in us, to be one with us and with the Father, and he will not leave us as orphans.
St. Augustine said it is one thing for us to go to heaven when we die, but something else for heaven to come to us here and now. This is the promise he makes to us now, how timely! We will not be left alone especially when many of us are isolated. We have a defender, an instigator that will help us to do good works like the commandments and not fall into a dissipated life. In two weeks the Church celebrates this coming of the Holy Spirit when the apostles would no longer be afraid and would announce the gospel in all the known languages. Let us prepare ourselves for this earth shattering event.