THE FIRST EPISTLE OF S. PETER THE APOSTLE. CHAPTER III.
1 In like manner also let wives be subject to their husbands : that if any believe not the word, they may be won without the word, by the conversation of the wives.
2 Considering your chaste conversation with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel:
4 But the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God.
5 For after this manner heretofore the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands.
If we think of Mary, as sketched forth in the Gospel, as handed down by tradition, and as her character is impressed in the minds of the faithful—we shall find that all that the Apostle here recommends meets in her, as the great ideal model of all holy women, the bright mirror to which all should look, and wherein they may find all virtues and perfections.
22 Who is on the right hand of God, swallowing down death, that we might be made heirs of life everlasting: being gone into heaven, the angels and powers and virtues being made subject to him.
The Apostle speaks thus of Jesus Christ as Man. Where, then, is the place of her in heaven from whom He received this His triumphant Manhood ? In making the angelic choirs subject to His glorified Humanity, where does He set His own Mother Mary, to whom He Himself was on earth subject 1 ? Will He not in the glory of heaven make the angels and powers and virtues subject to her ? [See supra, Heb. i. 5.]
10 As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Mary having found grace with God, and being full of grace, ministered it to others, as the Gospel tells us, at the Visitation. She had power with her Divine Son, and she used her influence for others, as at the Marriage-feast at Cana. We may trust her for ourselves also, if only we ask her; and she will not be wanting to us: for that Faithful Virgin is a good steward of the manifold grace of God.
13 But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding Joy.
See what is said above, James i. 12; 1 Pet. i. 6, 9.
1 The ancients therefore that are among you, I beseech, who am myself also an ancient, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ: as also a partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come.
S. Peter rests his claim to exhort and persuade on his being an ancient, and a witness of the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. This was a ground for his authority, and for respect and attention being shown to him. And yet we know that during the Passion he followed afar off, denied his Lord, and fled to a distance through fear. How much greater consideration and honour, then, should be shown to Mary, simply on the ground of her being a witness of the same Passion and death of Jesus Christ—to her, who, not an ancient as S. Peter, but Christ's own Mother, stood the three hours long watching her Son's agony with intrepid faith and love at the foot of the Cross, deterred neither by fear, nor human respect, nor her own bitter anguish. Again, S. Peter claims to be heard and to persuade on the ground of his being a partaker of the future glory. But how much greater is Mary's claim on us here also, inasmuch as her share in glory, on account of her exceeding merits and dignity, must far surpass that of all the other Saints.
7 Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you.
8 Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.
On the grief that Mary felt at the doubt of her holy spouse Joseph, Fr. Barradas says: " The Virgin was silent, but had the greatest confidence in God, casting the care of her honour on Him, according to the words of S. Peter: Casting all your care upon Him, for He hath care of you; and of the Psalmist: ' Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee; He shall not suffer the just to waver for ever.' [Ps. liv. 23.] God lets not the just waver for ever: but the Virgin He did not allow to waver even for a moment. Her spouse wavered: the Virgin stood unmoved, stayed by the anchor of divine confidence : and, as Mount Sion, was settled on the foundation of firm hope; as is said in Psalm cxxiv. 1, 'They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion,' etc." [Tom. i. I. viii. c. 7 ; ap. Morales, I. iv. tr. 6.]
Innocent III., after quoting this verse (8) of S. Peter, says: u Whoever, then, feels any assault from his enemies, whether from the world, the flesh, or the devil, let him look to her who is 'terrible as an army set in array,' [Cant vi. 9.] let him supplicate Mary, that she will, by means of her Son, 'send him help from the sanctuary, and defend him out of Sion.' " [Ps. xix. 3. Serm. de Assump.]