THE FIRST EPISTLE OF S. PETER THE APOSTLE. CHAPTER I.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 Unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that can not fade, reserved in heaven for you.
5 Who, by the power of God, are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein you shall greatly rejoice, if now you must be for a little time made sorrowful in divers temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith (much more precious than gold which is tried by the fire) may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
The liveliness of Mary's hope, as also the surpassing glory of the heavenly inheritance reserved for her, was proportioned to the greatness of her sanctity, and dignity as Mother of God.
So, too, was her rejoicing, when she beheld again her divine Son risen from the tomb on Easter morning, in proportion to her sorrowing at the foot of the Cross : whilst her joy now in Paradise is according to the intensity of her dolours on earth. What, then, will be her praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ, since the trial of her faith was so great and precious ?
8 Whom having not seen, you love: in whom also now, though you see him not, you believe: and believing shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorified.
How much more ardently, then (S. Peter would seem to say), would you love Him had you seen Him. Indirectly, the having seen Jesus Christ is here set forth as a means and source of divine charity. Who saw Jesus as did His Mother Mary ? Who, seeing Him, loved Him as she ?
10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and diligently searched, who prophesied of the grace to come in you.
11 Searching what or what manner of time the spirit of Christ in them did signify: when it foretold those sufferings that are in Christ, and the glories that should follow.
Many of those things concerning the salvation to be wrought by Jesus Christ, which the prophets inquired and searched into, and foretold, they did not themselves adequately under stand— v.g., the fulness of the grace to come, the precise time, the signification of the Spirit of Christ, all His sufferings and glories. These were all perfectly revealed to Mary, on whom the Spirit of God was poured without measure ; who lived and conversed so many years with Him alone, who herself shared so intimately both in His sufferings, and in His glories.
12 To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to you they ministered those things which are now declared to you by them that have preached the gospel to you, the Holy Ghost being sent down from heaven, on whom the angels desire to look.
13 Wherefore having the loins of your mind girt up, being sober, trust perfectly in the grace which is offered you in the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel. What Gospel ? How many things must have been contained in the Gospel here referred to, wherewith those to whom the Apostle writes are supposed to be well acquainted, which he takes for granted as well known, and yet are not even alluded to in this Epistle. And if not in this, why should they be mentioned in any other, or, indeed, in all the Epistles put together? The Gospel, the revelation, or preaching forth of Jesus Christ, here spoken of by S. Peter, was not in writing at all, but was oral. It was impossible to set forth the Person and Nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ, without at the same time speaking of and setting forth Mary, His blessed Virgin Mother. The Apostles must surely have spoken much of her, from whom they themselves had learned so much of Him.
23 Being born again not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by he word of God who liveth and remaineth for ever.
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel hath been preached unto you.
That word of God by which they were born again, is not contained in this Epistle, nor adequately and fully in any one, nor in all of the Epistles taken together, nor is it so contained in any of the Four Gospels, nor in all of them: nor, indeed, in the entire New Testament. But even though it were thus contained, still that word whereby they were actually born again must have been independent of the written Books of the New Testament, since these had not for the most part reached those converts to whom S. Peter writes. That word was oral; yet it endureth for ever, the word of God incorruptible in the mind of the Church. That same word was full and entire, the whole Gospel. And as it contained the doctrines of the Blessed Trinity, and of the Incarnation, which are not to be found explicitly set forth with all their bearings and developments in the written Word: so too that same Word contained the full explicit teaching of truth about Mary in all its bearings and consequences, though these may not be found in the written Word.
12 Having your conversation good among the Gentiles : that whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by the works, which they shall behold in you, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13 Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake: whether it be to the king as excelling.
" In the midst of an evil and perverse people," writes S. Antoninus, " the Blessed Virgin Mary above all others had her conversation so innocent and edifying, that her glorious life illumines all the Churches; for she omitted nothing that ought to be done, did nothing that ought not to be done, took part with no one in his wrong-doing, communicated not to anyone what good of hers might not be shared in, gave to no one bad example in anything, was scandalised by no one's evil act. Hence, says S. Ambrose, ' In Mary you have clear examples of probity, to know what you should avoid, and what you should choose.'" [i P. iv. tit. 15, cap. 18, § 5.]
Mary gave the most perfect example of such subjection, after that of Jesus Christ Himself, in her submission to her holy Spouse Joseph, to the Roman Emperor Augustus, and to the tyrant Herod.
20 For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently; this is thanksworthy before God.
21 For unto this are you called: because Christ also suffered for us. leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.
How glorious for herself, and thanksworthy before God was Mary's enduring patience. She suffered patiently with her Jesus, and after Him the most of all others: not for any sin of her own—for she had none—but for us. Thus did Marv leave us a perfect example of suffering patiently in well-doing. Moreover, literally, she followed in Christ's steps on His way to Calvary.