Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday in Easter 2: The "end" is near

Opening Sentence
On this day the Lord has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Commemoration: Anselm
Almighty God, who raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalter: Psalm 20, 21

Lessons: Exodus 17, 1 Peter 4:7-19, John 16:16-33

“The end of all things is at hand,” writes Peter. This does not mean that he believed “the end of the world,” popularly portrayed as a cosmic cataclysm, was about to take place at any moment. Rather, it is another way of saying, like Paul in his letter to the Philippians, “The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). Peter is stressing the importance of persevering in prayer and holy living because Jesus Christ, who is “the end of all things,” is always near, having inaugurated his reign as Lord of heaven and earth through his death and resurrection. The day will come when that reign will be realized and consummated in all its fullness. It will be a day when heaven and earth alike will be permeated through and through with righteousness, peace, and joy; and Christ himself will be personally present in the midst of this glorious new creation.

In the meantime, however, Peter encourages his readers to “be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers,” making real in the present the hope they have for the future. “Above all,” Peter says, “keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” This is not cheap, sentimental love. It is unconditional, sacrificial love. It is the same kind of love Christ himself embodied when he laid down his life for his friends.

During their wanderings in the wilderness, the Israelites never seemed to tire of grumbling and complaining. This is not to be the case with the people of God’s New Covenant. Peter instructs them to “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” By his grace, God redeems the fallen and bestows upon them various gifts for the benefit of the whole community. Grace, poured out in love, enables all who hope in Christ to live holy and righteous lives, always giving thanks and praise to God for the gift of his Son and the blessing of his Holy Spirit.


O God, Our Help in Ages Past