Discipline, Hope, Discipleship, and Good News- Reflection for Mass of May 25, 2010

24 May

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Ferial- Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Peter 1:10-16; Psalm 98:1-4; Mark 10:28-31

Two themes are especially prominent in the Gospel of Mark, kingdom and discipleship, and these take on an even greater focus as the Gospel progresses. Mark’s account of Jesus’ ministry begins with the concise instruction, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.”[1] That message, which puts into focus the kingdom of God and discipleship, remains true near the end of Christ’s ministry according to Mark.

Today we hear the corollary to yesterday’s story of the rich man, who had begun by asking Jesus what he had to do “to inherit eternal life,”[2] and had finished by going away saddened, “for he had many possessions.”[3] The story becomes all the more poignant, because Peter, the leader of the Twelve Apostles, is the one to exclaim in bewilderment to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.”[4] However, Peter, like the rich man before him, misses Jesus’ point- and the major point of the Gospel of Mark- about what it means to repent, and what it means to be a disciple of the Good News.

Peter, like the rich man and like us, must be liberated from our many possessions, those preoccupations that might be better understood as that which can possess us and that is not of God: excessive ambition for power, for affluence, and for ease in discerning and proclaiming the word by our speech and by our example. To repent is literally to turn around or to turn back from that which is non-conducive to living the Gospel. Repentance, though, must not simply be to turn away or to give away something, but to turn toward God, source of all that is good and holy.

The first letter of Peter also speaks to us of turning toward God, that we might be holy as God is holy.[5] While all our works are for naught in the absence of God, that does not mean that these are unimportant. Today’s reading from 1 Peter gives us two prescriptions for discipleship and for the perpetual discernment of God: “Discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when He is revealed.”[6] The first, discipline, requires prayer. God directs us through prayer and will not allow the one who discerns prayerfully to perish. God will also bring to eternal life those who hope. Christian hope is a central theme in 1 Peter, which goes on to instruct us: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”[7]

Discipleship, then, must be about discipline and hope. These bring us to the charity and holiness that is God. While we wait for the full revelation of God the Son in His return, we have already been given in Sacrament the gifts of Christ and of the “Good News of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.”[8] The very angels, says the First Letter of Peter, “long to look”[9] upon the gifts that we have received and yet for whose fulfillment we await.[10]

Let us pray, then, that we might be messengers of those divine gifts. We pray that our discipleship, strengthened by discipline and hope, might draw us ever closer to our God.

WRS 


[1] Mark 1:15

[2] Mark 10:17

[3] Mark 10:22

[4] Mark 10:28

[5] 1 Peter 1:16. See also Leviticus 11:44, 19:2; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:36.

[6] 1 Peter 1:13

[7] 1 Peter 3:15

[8] 1 Peter 1:12

[9] Ibid.

[10] 1 Peter 1:12-13

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