Sunday’s second reading was from Peter’s first letter.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
What a great hymn of praise this is from the fisherman! Densely packed phrases crowd together to give an overwhelming sense of the height, width, depth and breadth of the gospel. Perhaps we might simply savour some of the words we find.
“According to his great mercy…”: all of this - the forgiveness of our sins, our union with Christ, our place in heaven - is from the mercy of God. It is not deserved or earned, but is the gracious gift of a loving God. What mercy indeed!
“…he has caused us…”: the initiative in all of this is God’s. His mercy does not wait for our action, but rather he moves us.
“…to be born again to a living hope…”: a fresh start which brings us a hope which is not dead or moribund, but pulses within us.
“…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”: this new birth is brought about by the historic fact of the resurrection of Christ. It is something which has been accomplished, and stands in history.
“… to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading…”: this rebirth, which Peter had earlier mentioned, means that we now have a new inheritance. It is as if a pauper had been reborn as a prince. This inheritance is eternal and unchanging.
“…kept in heaven for you…”: this new inheritance is stored in the heavenly vaults, and is securely waiting fo us.
“… who by God’s power are being guarded through faith…”: if we then worry that we might not make it to this inheritance, Peter reminds us that we are being guarded by the very power of God. Our faith will endure and see to it that we endure too.
“…for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” And so this sentence finishes by giving us a glorious hope of our salvation, our reconciliation with God. In the midst of hardship we may not see it, but it will be revealed to us in the end.
I could carry on through the rest of this passage, but that would rob you of the joy of doing so yourself! Read and relish the praise of this fisherman.