Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours made careful search and inquiry, inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in regard to the things that have now been announced to you through those who brought you good news by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven נthings into which angels long to look!
Therefore prepare for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
Peter began to say to Jesus, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age נhouses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions נand in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
The encouraging style of pope Francis seems to echo the pastoral style of Saint Peter. In his pep-talk to the newly-baptised adults who must face the risks of living as Christians under the reign of mad, megalomaniac Nero, Peter urges them to “prepare for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace of Jesus Christ.” His epistle sets the bar of holiness very high for all the baptized. Much of what was said back at Vatican II about the universal Christian vocation to holiness and to a close, personal bond with Christ, was drawn from this simple, straightforward epistle. Peter's message is felt by many to be more inspiring than any number of papal encyclicals and curial decrees in subsequent times, including our own, purporting to end debate on controversial issues of current concern. What would most benefit our Church today would be a candid return to those basic principles of Christian living, building on the centrality of the Risen Jesus. Theologians could then be allowed greater freedom to explore how this can shed light on the hot moral and social topics of today.
In the Gospel, Jesus promises a rich reward in the coming Kingdom of God to all who have given up comforts for his sake. Clearly Peter and the others are to follow the example of Our Lord, who identified with the poor, gravitated towards them and spoke up in their defence. The lifestyle of Gospel messengers will not be opulent, or even materially secure. Like Jesus, they will take risks when reaching out, even–literally or figuratively–”touch the leper” and be rendered unclean, unfit to share in temple ritual. Yet this option renders us holy with the Jesus who declared that “The last shall be first.” The “hundredfold” now in this age will presumably have to be taken in the sense of spiritual joy in doing worthwhile work, rather than as a promise of material wealth in this present life, pace our Calvinist brethren, some of whom still link Christian virtue too closely with material prosperity.