In the weeks following Easter, the Catholic church in its readings focuses on the witness of Peter the Apostle, leader of Jesus’ disciples and a key eyewitness to his resurrection. He speaks in the first readings at Mass from the Acts of the Apostles, which report what he said to the people in Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection.
In the office of readings Peter’s 1st Letter is read. Peter speaks from Rome to the gentile churches along the Black Sea, according to Raymond Brown in his interesting commentary in “An Introduction to the New Testament.” The churches the apostles writes to were founded from Jerusalem, from the pilgrims Peter spoke to immediately after Jesus’ resurrection.
Now, years later, Peter reaches out to these churches whose founders had asked for baptism in Jerusalem; he reminds them what that sign meant–they received “ a new birth, unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.”
The churches are suffering “many trials” and the apostle tells them they are being tested like gold in the fire.
Brown thinks the trials may come from a lack of acceptance these believers are experiencing from their neighbors who misinterpret their beliefs and ostracize them because they seem so out of step with the culture and thinking of the times.
Peter reminds them of the dignity they have as God’s people; like the Jews journeying out of Egypt they should not forget their destiny.
Maybe we’re not too far from the situation of those Christians from Pontus and Cappadocia today. We need reminding about who we are.
I wish there were a better way to bring the wealth of our liturgical readings to ordinary people.