The Easter season has come to a close with the celebration of Pentecost, and we return to ordinary time. Of course, for Catholics ordinary shouldn’t mean just ordinary, but rather extraordinary! Today’s first reading from the first letter of Peter tells us how.
Concerning the salvation of your souls
the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours
searched and investigated it
investigating the time and circumstances
that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated
when it testified in advance
to the sufferings destined for Christ
and the glories to follow them.
It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you
with regard to the things that have now been announced to you
by those who preached the Good News to you
through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven,
things into which angels longed to look.
Then, Peter uses the word “therefore” – always pay extra attention when you see the word “therefore” because it is a call to action.
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly,
and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Like obedient children,
do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance
but, as he who called you is holy,
be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct,
for it is written, Be holy because I am holy. (1Pt 1:10-16)
To what does Peter call us? Very simply – he call us to holiness. He also tells us how to achieve it.
“Gird up the loins of your mind” implies preparing yourself mentally for the battle ahead. Roman soldiers would put on a belt to protect their loins and ready themselves for battle. Danger awaits and their preparation for defense is essential for their survival.
So it is for us. Saint Paul exhorts us, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rm 12:2) The first battle line is drawn in the mind. Before any action or inaction takes place, it is conceived first in the mind.
We must prepare our minds for the battle ahead. St. Peter instructs us to live soberly and to set our hopes on the grace of Christ, that is, the grace the Holy Spirit provides in the fulfillment of God’s will in our daily lives. This grace comes to us primarily through the sacraments of Eucharist and reconciliation and through prayer. This is the belt we must use to gird the loins of our minds.
Peter also calls us to obedience. Easier said than done! Saint Paul sums it up best: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Rm 7:15) We all know this struggle between good and evil, or even between good and a lesser good. We know what we should do, but we just don’t always do it. St. Peter’s admonition to obey provides the key.
When we begin our day in prayer and live a sacramental life, we are given the grace we need to choose to obey – to say, “Yes,” when our flesh draws us to, “No.” These simple yet challenging steps will guide our feet on the path of holiness to which we are called.
Make this an extraordinary ordinary time! Anne