1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth as his sons, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, so that we have a sure hope and the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away, because it is being kept for you in the heavens. Through your faith, God’s power will guard you until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the end of time. This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials; so that, when Jesus Christ is revealed, your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only it is more precious than gold, which is corruptible even though it bears testing by fire – and then you will have praise and glory and honour. You did not see him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him, you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described, because you believe; and you are sure of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls.
Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’
This is a cause of great joy for you, even though you may for a short time have to bear being plagued by all sorts of trials
Before gold or silver can be purified, it has to undergo intense heating under a strong fire. The heat is necessary in order to separate the impurities from the pure metals. After separation, the impurities can be removed. Then the melted gold and silver can be crafted into beautiful ornaments and jewellery. God is that fire that will cleanse us as the first chapter of Isaiah puts it: “I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities” (Isaiah 1:25).
The rich man in the gospel passage seemed to be doing everything right, yet he chose to turn away from Jesus’ invitation. He was unwilling to give up his riches and move away from his attachments and comfort zone. I suppose that applies to many of us in a way. We spend a large amount of our time finding that comfort zone, and once we get there, it is hard to leave.
Serving God inevitably involves a certain amount of self-sacrifice, particularly of the material sort. The sacrifice, no doubt, will cause discomfort and even pain, but if we grit our teeth and focus on the ultimate goal of eternity, then we will find afterwards that the trials we go through have helped shaped us into better followers of Christ.
Therefore, we ought to be thankful for the trials in our life, difficult as it may seem. The challenge lies in not complaining and griping, but accepting them as part of our faith journey towards our ultimate goal of salvation. Scripture brings out this point clearly – “…let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1).
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that we will regard our trials with humility and gratitude.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for the trials that come our way, and the growth that comes with them.
Tue, 25 May – 1 Peter 1:10-16; Mark 10:28-31; Memorial for St Bede the Venerable, Priest & Doctor of the Church; Memorial for St Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin
Wed, 26 May – 1 Peter 1:18-25; Mark 10:32-45; Memorial for St Philip Neri, Priest
Thu, 27 May – 1 Peter 2:2-5.9-12; Mark 10:46-52; Memorial for St Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop
Fri, 28 May – 1 Peter 4:7-13; Mark 11:11-26
Sat, 29 May – Jude 17:20-25; John 11:27-33
Sun, 30 May – Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15; Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity