1 PETER: 1:10-16 ; MARK 10:28-31

Both of today's readings serve well to prepare us for entering upon the Lenten season that begins tomorrow for they fix our attention on the meaning of our life in this world in light of the world to come.   Saint Peter opens his first Epistle by bring to mind the fundamental significance that Christ continues to hold for us now that he is no longer bodily present among us, his followers.  He has not left us with empty hands but rather places at our disposal a precious inheritance.  We have access to it, Peter assures us, by virtue of a living hope.  This expectation derives from a faith in the life won for us by the resurrection from the dead of the glorified Christ.  Peter is obviously enthusiastic as he considers the nature of the inheritance we as baptized believers have set before us.  He seeks to provide us with some impression of its nature so as to increase in us the desire to prove worthy of attaining to its possession.   He assures us that the reward that awaits faithful adherence to our risen Lord is free of all defect, subject to no contamination;   nor is it liable to disappoint our hope eventually through the wearing out that so marks our temporal world, for this promised inheritance is incorruptible;  nor will it fade away so as to lose its charm and appeal with familiar use.   Writing to the faithful at a time when persecution threatens, the apostle seeks to provide assurance to his readers by stressing that, unlike the things we hope will come our way in this present age, this promised inheritance already exists.   It is a pure gift, a grace that is being preserved for us in heaven under the protection of the power of God.

Having made these points, in today's text, Peter reminds us that this promise of our salvation is all the more assured for being the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the passion and resurrection of Christ.  We are to be all the more confident through considering that these earlier prophets were being enlightened and sustained so that we might find support through their proclamation.   They were, as Peter puts it, "serving not themselves but you."

If Saint Peter is able by these words to give us assurance so as to strengthen our faith, it is due to that reassurance that he himself was given by our Lord.   As we just heard in the Gospel reading, when the apostle asked his Master about the nature of the reward to expect for his faithful service, Jesus answers in the strongest and broadest terms.  He states that not only his apostles but all who deny themselves for his sake and for the Gospel are promised so generous a reward as to surpass all natural expectation.  For the assurance we are given even now at this Liturgy transcends all merely human desire.  For, as he is at pains to state, our reward is not confined to this present age, the world of time, but includes the far greater gifts of "eternal life in the age to come."  We offer the Eucharist here this evening with heartfelt gratitude for the grace of this promise renewed to each of us by our sharing in this sacrament of the altar.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger