St. Peter’s texts are filled with mercy this coming Sunday. The first of the three long and elaborate sentences begins with the word, “Blessed.” This teaches us that first (and really only act on our part is praise and thanksgiving to God for His great mercy.

Each verb in the three sentences tells us what we must do, and first are blessings to God. The second is that “you rejoice.” Perhaps this is an unfamiliar concept for those Catholic Jansenists of our time, still beatijng themselves up for their sins, as if a hair shirt will get God’s attention. Grace and mercy are free, undeserved gifts from God.

Not surprisingly, the verb “you (as in all y’all) rejoice!” is repeated agin in the third sentence. we are to bass God and rejoice for His marvelous deeds among us which we have seen and heard for ourselves.

Perhaps in these days of pandemic filled with fear and anxiety, these expressions of joy may seem far from us. It is difficult to imagine let alone show forth this blessing of God and this surging joy when our hearts are filled with so many questions. One does almost have to stop and wonder sometimes if God is even present for us. This is despair — to be without hope.

We have to remember that Peter, writing all of this, has been through things even perhaps worse than what we face today. He had abandoned his livelihood for a dream, he witnessed the arrest, judgment, and crucifixion of his friend, he denied his friend, risked arrest himself for preaching and healing, knew the confusion of the promised resurrection, and faced his own execution. Yet this is the way he writes and thinks about all these things. He can do this because at the open tomb his eyes for opened to understanding and believe. He is therefore in the right and in the truth to encourage our own struggle through all this and our holding fast to belief, and what is more — to do it with joy!

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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