1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
Reflection “…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you…” Could any words be more à propos for the incendiary social political milieu in which we find ourselves today? Regardless of our political persuasion our minds, bodies and spirits are continually subjected to the public airing of vitriol, malevolence and contempt, “like roaring lions our perceived adversaries prowl around looking to devour us.”
I believe the true enemy of human consciousness, the dispassionate “devil that prowls around looking for someone to devour,” in not interested in which party, politic or program we support. It’s unwonted intention is to turn up the heat, provoke malice and mistrust, and reduce humanity to its base and brute lowest common denominator. When we stone one another with rocks, words or state-of-the-art weapons we, like “roaring lions” are essentially crucifying the Christ that lives and breathes and finds its Being in our “sisters and brothers in all the world.”
Like the people living in exile in the Roman provinces of Asia Minor for whom the First Letter of Peter was written, we feel maligned and reviled. We believe our particular position on health care, taxes, foreign policy, role of government, and countless other propositions is right and the position of other people is wrong. Not only are “those other people” wrong, they are the source of our suffering. So we dig in our heels, defend our position and seek persecution of the other - and in so doing the prowling devil devours our humanity. We pick up sharp sticks and stones, and “like roaring lions” strike with hostility and hatefulness.
All this because we have failed to “discipline ourselves,” we have failed to “keep alert” and resist the enemy of human consciousness. We, the people of God have not been “steadfast in (our) faith;” we have forgotten “that (our) brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” We have put ourselves in the place of God rather than humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God.” We have forgotten that the essence of our humanity depends on our recognition that the Spirit of God is resting on us, resting on all of us without exception.
What if we refused to be bedeviled. What if we humbly admitted that the “fiery ordeal” in which we find ourselves is beyond our comprehension but it will not devour our humanity; that no matter what befalls us we will not be reduced to our base and brute creatureliness? What if we decided to be “steadfast in our faith,” to put down our rocks and words and state-of-the-art weapons and express the Spirit of God’s love for all people? What if we refused to crucify our humanity?
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