2 Peter 1:3-6 Homily | "I'm not Bad..."
“3 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by[a] his own glory and goodness. 4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature. 5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness…” 2 Peter 1:3-6
“I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”, says cartoon character and wife of Roger, Jessica, in the 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Her point was that her nature was good. She loved her husband, and her fellow man (or cartoon) and she couldn’t be a killer. But she was forced to look that way because of those who influenced her (or her cartoonists in this case). This is how I think we feel sometimes. God made us all intrinsically good. But the world around us is often so full of sin, … sins that might even look “good” to us. We are pulled between two forces: our good nature, and our fallen, sinful world around us. As your teen would say, “the struggle is real.” And so it is.
St. Peter is trying to warn us here of these temptations in the world. How we can so easily fall from the God-given grace that we have and that is again given us in baptism into the pits of sin and selfishness that the world offers us. It’s difficult. It will always be. Christ warned us that following his path would not be an easy life. But the reward is great. The reward is what brings us fully back into relationship with God. But we must persevere. As the apostle says, “support our faith with goodness”: we must live the life of God that we want to believe in. We must do good and live love as he loves us. And we must have knowledge of good and evil, knowledge of self-mastery, to protect ourselves, or souls, from that which might harm us spiritually. And we must endure. Endurance is a common theme with St. Peter… we must endure the long and hard existence that we have in this world. We must endure in and persevere in living righteously and not falling into the sin of the world around us.
The good news is that we are not alone. God has given us the tools. In the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we have the gift the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey. And in the sacrament of the Eucharist we have the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ to nurture us on the way. As I’ve heard more that one theologian call it, “Food for the journey.”
We can do this. We can live righteously, and we can achieve godliness. But we must work for it. And we must strive for the goal. We must do this. It is imperative. It is our reason for being. God created man to love him, to be in relationship with him, and to spend eternity with him. He has given us these predispositions toward good and offered us the free will to choose to accept them or not. Of course, the choice is ours. But wouldn’t you prefer to spend eternity in His grace, than separated from Him? I sure would.
So how do we do it? How do we endure the battle for holiness? Its starts with the idea that you are not alone. Man is a social being. We are called to be in relationship not only with God, but with each other. This is why the community of Christ is so important. We need the strength of our fellow man standing beside us, sitting next to us in Church, praying with us, and supporting us to succeed. Man is not an island. We are all in this together. Look at the apostles. They work together, they pray together, they support each other. Look at their teaching to us… St. Paul tells us time and again to work together, to intercede for others, to go to the community when we are sick, etc. We must stand in this together. In the end, mankind is going to be judged on the whole of creation, not just how you or I was individually. We must be our brother’s keeper. And in turn, let him be ours.
As we struggle to achieve holiness in our daily lives we must remember that God has given us all of the graces to reach it. And we must also remember the life of the early Church, and its model for Christian life, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42) Fellowship-our community; breaking bread-Jesus in the Eucharist; and prayer-for strength to endure.