If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

5th. Sunday of Easter (A)

(Acts 6:1-7; 1st. Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12)

People of God, let me draw your attention to the first reading, in the course of which you heard the Apostles speaking to the early Christians in Jerusalem:

The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

You will, I trust, appreciate from that passage the importance the Apostles attached to their 'ministry of the word', which included what we might call today the office of preaching. In this they were being totally faithful to the Lord's command, for we are told that after His Resurrection:

Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He said to them, "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:14-16)

With that in mind perhaps someone might think: ‘But what about the Mass?’

The Apostles regarded the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice to be of supreme importance, indeed absolutely necessary, for the Church, as St. Paul writes in his letter to his Christian community at Corinth:

I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is (broken) for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (1 Cor. 11:23-24)

For the Apostles, there could be no conflict of precedence between ministry of the Word and celebration of the Eucharist, since prayer and proclamation are two co-related aspects of one reality: as St. Peter said in our first reading:

We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The Eucharist is supreme prayer, the prayer of the Church -- the Body of Christ -- with that of her Head, Christ Himself. Proclamation of the Word is a commission received by the apostles from Jesus, Whose Spirit will relentlessly guide and drive them on to proclaim His Name and continue His work of redemption for men and women of all times.

Consequently, a priest’s calling -- as a sharer in the Bishops' Apostolic mission in Mother Church today -- is to follow the Apostles' example by his ministry of the Word and offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, both of which he does pre-eminently in his celebration and proclamation of Christ at Holy Mass.

Nothing is more necessary and beneficial for our world today than the offering of Jesus' Eucharistic sacrifice, as Mother Church teaches us when she says: 'As often as the sacrifice of the Cross is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out' (Lumen Gentium 3). Nor is there any other place or time better suited for the proclamation of God's Word than when the Church community is assembled together in the house of God for her memorial of the Lord’s Resurrection through her celebration of the Eucharist bequeathed to her.

Here, People of God, we should notice that the ministry of the Word is not, primarily, a matter of being able to talk well: for example, a course to develop communication skills (to use modern jargon) cannot of itself enable or qualify anyone to proclaim God’s holy Word. God's grace and the Church’s commission -- together with personal prayer and appropriate study -- are the sole and absolutely necessary prerequisites for preaching the Word. For true preaching is not done by men alone, it is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit in and through chosen instruments opening themselves up to Him in personal obedience. Moreover, the purpose of such preaching is not to make Jesus popular, but to proclaim His truth and Mother Church’s teaching, whereby He might lead us all, in the power of His Spirit, to love, worship, and glorify the Father in spirit and in truth.

Do not think therefore that those who proclaim the Gospel in the name of the Church, that is the Holy Father, the Bishops, and the priests and deacons of Mother Church, speak, to quote Jesus, 'on their own initiative'. They can only rightly proclaim the Gospel under the impulse and inspiration of the Holy Spirit; and since Mother Church alone has been given the fullness of the Spirit, all receive through her the Spirit entrusted to them for their particular purpose and function. We were shown this clearly in the first reading where Peter, speaking on behalf of all the Apostles, said:

Brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

And we were subsequently told that:

They set (the seven men) before the apostles, and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

Why did the Apostles need to lay their hands on them since, as we heard, these seven men were chosen because they were full of the Spirit and of wisdom?

Their fullness of the Spirit and of wisdom at that time was such as to have enabled them to live as good disciples of Jesus gaining a good reputation in the Christian community:

Seek out from among you seven men of good reputation.

However, in order to fulfil in the name of the infant Church the special function of looking after those who were most needy, they had to be given the Spirit anew:

The apostles, when they had prayed, laid their hands on them.

No special work in and for the Church can be done without a special gift of the Spirit for that purpose. The Spirit guides, preserves, strengthens and inspires for the good of the Church; He will never allow the gates of Hell to prevail against the Church, and so He specially protects the whole People of God by blessing and prospering the sincere efforts of individuals called to serve in designated ministries as they seek to respond to their calling. Although He does not eliminate human sins and failings, nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness freely given to all who, at whatever level and in whatever degree, humbly and sincerely work for the furtherance of Gospel truth and divine charity in the Church, the family, and society as a whole.

That is why Jesus said to His Apostles, and to His Church today (Jn. 16:13s.):

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

And that is why the apostle John could write in his first letter:

We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 Jn. 4:6)

Most of the present difficulties and trials of Mother Church stem from an ignorance of the working of the Holy Spirit and an overdose of human pride. The Holy Spirit is always and only given to build up Mother Church for the glory of God, never to back up human pride or human passions; and yet there are numerous Catholics who think their secular learning or intelligence enables them, while others imagine that the vehemence of their personal feelings compels them, to intervene in even the most sacred matters of Church’s teaching and practice. These wrong attitudes have bedevilled Mother Church from the beginning, as St. John shows when speaking in the book of Revelation (3:1-4) to those having a false opinion of themselves or possessing a false reputation with others:

I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.

People of God, St. Peter told us that Jesus:

The stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone;

and that we, His disciples:

As living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

That spiritual house is Mother Church where the Holy Spirit dwells and is ever at work to form us all in the likeness of Jesus as members of His Body and sharers in His holy priesthood, called to 'offer up (in His name) spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God'. All our individual and personal spiritual sacrifices, however, are only acceptable to God because of the real sacrifice of Jesus, which alone gives worthy praise and glory to the Father; and also because some members of the Church have been chosen and ordained to be instruments of Jesus in the continued offering, even today, of His one, real, and perennial sacrifice to the Father.

As a priest, I am a sharer in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus; but I am also, as an individual -- along with you -- a sharer in that other priesthood, the priesthood of the whole Body of Christ, in which each of us is called to join, here at Mass, our individual spiritual sacrifices with the bodily sacrifice of Jesus for the supreme glory of God, the heavenly Father.

People of God, our hope and our future is bound up with Jesus and in Him we have a sublime vocation which each and every one of us should try to build up more and more through our personal relationship with Him: for we do not have an impersonal calling, we still can and still have to work at it, and we cannot fulfil it without the grace and strength of His most Holy Spirit.

God is All in all for us, and He wants us to give Him our all in return. In Mother Church we are called and enabled to do just that by the abiding presence of Jesus in the Church and the constant working of His Spirit in the Church and in our lives.

Jesus Himself required His disciples to look beyond the physicality of His own presence and Person:

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority: believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me.

I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:12-13)

In like manner He wants us to look beyond mere flesh and blood, beyond personalities we may like or dislike, and, as St. Paul puts it:

Through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

That means ‘work together as a team’ ‘ as living members of My Body’:

That the Father may be glorified in the Son.

We should all try to look beyond personalities and ignore our own pride, each trying to do our best for Jesus, present in His Church, in response to the gracious calling and power of His Holy Spirit Who works in and through all of us, each

according to the degree allotted him by God. As St Paul said, all of us must aspire to have the mind of Christ, becoming one with Him and in Him; for Jesus is indeed the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father, and only in Him and through Him can we give:

Glory to God in the highest and (bring) peace to His people on earth.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Fourth Sunday of Eastertide (A)

(Acts 2:14, 36-41; 1st. Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10)

There was something to be specially noticed with regard to our second reading today, People of God.  At the beginning of the first letter of St. Peter we read:
To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. (NIV)
Those places form part of what we now know as modern Turkey, and touched also upon those mountain areas where the Kurds of today are trying to find a home and a national identity for themselves; and, of course, those Christians to whom Peter was writing were only very recent converts.  Here then Peter was seeking to encourage, strengthen, and to guide the nascent universal Church in the ways of Christ, and I want you to take note how he sets about it:
What credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.   For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.
Such was the way the early Church was built up: Christians were taught and encouraged to face up to the difficulties of their personal situation for the good of the Church and with their eyes firmly fixed on the historic person of Christ Who suffered and died to redeem us from the sin which is in the world and of the world.  In such teaching Peter was being absolutely faithful to Jesus Who said to His disciples:
If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (Jn.15:19)
This message, still valid centuries later, does not make pleasant hearing in our modern, Western, consumer society, where there are many whose main practical endeavour is to enjoy life in this passing world in a way leaving them with nothing better than a theoretical dedication to anything higher or better, let alone eternal.  These theoretical Christians are, most certainly, not real disciples of Jesus because they are chiefly concerned about being acceptable to those around them; they cannot seriously accept what Jesus says about the world hating them, because they want, first and foremost, to enjoy with their friends what the world has to offer; overcoming the sin of the world together with Jesus is not an attractive proposition.
Perhaps, I can put it another way:  these pseudo-disciples of Jesus accept and appreciate only part of Jesus' life and teaching: they accept the teaching that He died for them and they like to think that He conquered death by rising from the dead.  But there, in fact, they stop.   For His Resurrection in glory means little to them because they cannot appreciate that Jesus’ risen life is the exercise of a heavenly life situated, for the time, on earth, but essentially expressive of and orientated to, heavenly values and realities; and this is because their absorption with the joys and activities, present-day responsibilities and attractive prospects of earthly life is so strong in their mind and heart that heavenly life has no real significance.
And yet, after rising from the dead in glory Jesus did not live an ordinary, normally human, life again here on earth.  He did, indeed, show Himself to the disciples several times on earth, but on all those occasions He appeared  as One Who had ascended, that is, Who was now living at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.  He had risen in order to ascend, because the life in which He rose, the life He offers to share with us, was, is, heavenly life, eternal and glorious.
You are His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.
Those who imagine they can live as good Christians while aiming no higher than earthly happiness are totally unaware of, and indeed at odds with, their Christian baptism:  a bit like those fireworks we call "damp squibs": made to be rockets, they do indeed burn when their match is applied, but they hardly ever lift off into the air, and if they should begin to rise they go up only a fretful few yards before spluttering and plummeting down to ground again, with no further possibility of fulfilling their promise.
Those whom Peter addresses, on the other hand, are Jesus' true disciples, men and women under no illusions that the world can fully satisfy them or that, despite having crucified their Lord, it might in some way come to love them:
If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Moreover, they also know and wholeheartedly accept that, thanks to Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, they are no longer helpless before the sin of the world.  They rejoice in the conviction that now they can overcome the world in and with Jesus, Who conquered sin and death by rising in the glory of the Holy Spirit, and Who now offers to all who believe in Him and in His saving proclamation of God’s Fatherly love, a share in the personal presence and sustaining power of His own Most Holy Spirit. 
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Therefore, you can see how much the early Christians and the early Church differed from many, probably the majority, of Catholics and Christians today.  It is commonly thought today  that the way to bring people to the Faith is by chatting comfortably around dinner tables; that the faith of young people and of converts can be strengthened by making worship more interesting and less demanding, drawing them into social activities and inviting them to parties.  Of course, these activities can have some helpful part to play at the beginning of Christian life, but they have little or no role in the strengthening of Christ’s faithful to face the trials and difficulties their faith will encounter in the course of real life, when things turn out differently to their expectations and when trials, misunderstandings, and even hostility or persecutions, come, perhaps undeservedly, their way.
Peter was very realistic in his address to the new converts of Asia Minor, and he not only warned them of the difficulties they would have to face, but even said it was their vocation, their calling, not only to suffer in that way but also to triumph over their trials in the strength of Christ:
What credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.   For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.
Speaking in this way Peter was preparing and strengthening them, as he does us, for whatever might arise.   As sincere believers in, and disciples of, Jesus, we are conscious of the sin that is not only around us in the world, but also in us ourselves, and we have come to find Jesus where He promised to abide with us, that is, in the Church, come wanting to be healed by Him and to learn from Him.    We know that our healing will be a life-long process, for the Holy Spirit of Jesus must open up our most secret selves so that, penetrating to the core of our being, He might form us in all truth and sincerity in the likeness of Jesus.  God tempers His power to our frailty, and so the Holy Spirit working in us can only change us gradually; moreover, the Spirit, having begun to work His wonders in us, has then to encourage us to commit ourselves to  following His influence and guidance with confidence, trust, courage, and that too is difficult and takes much time, because, naturally, we want to know where we are going and look to encounter signs every now and then that reassure us we are on the right way; we want to walk with others and find comfort and appreciation among our fellows, and so, all too often, we cannot hear or understand, neither will we follow, when the Spirit of Jesus would lead us along a way that is not level, well sign-posted, or well-trodden, by others.  We do indeed love to think of ourselves as unique, but most are usually both slow and reluctant to accept the consequences of such a gift if it entails loneliness or responsibility.
Today therefore, let our Easter rejoicing be both real and truly profitable, let it renew our faith and strengthen our hearts as we listen carefully and trustfully to Jesus' words:
Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   (John 10:7-10)
Jesus is indeed the Way, the firstborn from the dead; He is the Truth which alone can satisfy and fulfil our deepest longings; He is Life itself unblemished and eternal.  Apart from Him we are, and we can do, nothing; however, with Him and in Him, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Father will raise us up to fullness of life by our sharing with Jesus in divine blessedness. 
Through faith in Jesus, the gate and the door, we have entered into the flock of God, and Jesus like a good shepherd leads His flock to nourishing pasture.  Having conquered the sin of the world, and having been raised -- still in our likeness -- to new and eternal life in the Spirit of Glory, Jesus is able to fulfil what He promised:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.   My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.  I and My Father are one. (John 10:29-30)
However, we must not interpret life-nourishing "pasture" where Jesus leads His flock in the sense of worldly "green pastures": a pleasing and pleasurable experience of life.  For Jesus' flock, ‘pasture’ means life lived under the guiding and sustaining grace of God, an experience meant to transform us and enable us, resolutely and joyfully, to look forward to a share in the glory, the joy, and the peace of heaven, which transcend anything this world can imagine, let alone offer.
Eastertide is a time of supreme joy for all Christians, but let us learn from Peter who, inspired by the Spirit of Jesus, spoke words of truth that pierce the fog of worldly deceits and our own self-indulgent fancies:
(Peter) testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."
Therefore our rejoicing today should be for the fact that in the Risen Lord we can now overcome our own sinfulness and the corruption and deceit of the world around us, thanks to His bequest of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us and offers us strength and light to follow Jesus perseveringly along the way that leads unfailingly and directly to our heavenly and eternal home.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Second Sunday of Easter (A)
(Acts 2:42-47; 1st. Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31)

My dear brothers and sister in Christ, we are brought together on this day to celebrate the glory of Christ and the goodness of God, and also to rejoice in Mother Church for the hope which her proclamation of the Gospel and bestowal of the Spirit opens up for us.
At the Last Supper Jesus offered His imminent crucifixion and death on our behalf to His Father, saying:
Father, as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world; and for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.  I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.  (Jn. 17:18-20)
You will notice that Jesus was about to sanctify Himself, that is, offer Himself totally to the Father in obedient, sacrificial, love, in order that His disciples -- the Apostles being sent to continue His own mission – might also be sanctified in truth, so that their preaching and living of Jesus’ ‘Good News’ might be acceptable to the Father and might enable those who would subsequently hear and embrace their proclamation to come together into His Church -- chosen from all nations, gathered over all ages -- there to live securely and fruitfully, being gradually guided in the gospel of Jesus by the transfiguring power of His Spirit for the salvation willed by the Father for mankind.
Now, in our Gospel today, we see the beginning of the fulfilment of that prayer:
The same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit”.
Here Jesus breathed upon the disciples, the Apostles, as a whole, not individually.  Later on, in the presence of many other disciples and of the Jews, the Holy Spirit would appear as tongues of flame over the head of each one of them, consecrating them for their individual tasks; but here, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit upon them as the original Apostolic College of Mother Church, that she, through them, might take His Gospel to the furthest ends of the earth for the salvation of mankind, as Jesus said In His prayer at the Last Supper:
(Father) now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  (John 17:13-17)
People of God, recognize the beauty and the glory of Mother Church; consider, rejoice, and put all your trust in God Who, through the truth of her proclamation and the spiritual power of her sacraments, will bring about our ultimate salvation and glorification in Jesus, to which end Mother Church has indeed been specially endowed with the fullness of Jesus’ Spirit of Truth and Holiness as we hear in St. John’s Gospel (Jn.16:13-15):
When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. 
Moreover, Mother Church has not only been thus wonderfully endowed, she is also sublimely protected by God:
I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one (Jn. 17:15);
as Jesus had earlier promised to Peter:
the gates of Hades shall not prevail against her. (Mt. 16:18)
However, although -- thanks to Jesus’ prayer and His gift of the Holy Spirit -- the devil can never deceive Mother Church into falsifying the Gospel of Jesus, nevertheless, the same devil is always, and ever more ferociously and cunningly, warring against her and her children, as was foretold from the beginning (Gen. 3:14-15):
The LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.   And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."
The serpent will always be trying to “strike at the heel of the Lord”, that is, to lead individuals into sin, and -- be those involved laity, religious, priests, bishops, or even popes -- about that we should never be scandalized, because it has been foretold and we have been forewarned.  We should, however, pray for those who are thus used by the devil in his attempts against our Lord and His Church; for, although Individuals always can, and sadly sometimes will, fail, the Church as a whole can never fail in her truthful proclamation of the Gospel; for in this, her God-given task, she is – as we have learned -- divinely guided and protected.  That is why today, as we celebrate the Easter glory of Jesus, we also delight in her, in whom and through whom He continues His saving work in our world today.
Finally, we note those other words of Jesus in our Gospel passage:
He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
And here we recognise that Mother Church is not only endowed and protected but that she has also been empowered to fight against the devil, as was also foretold from the beginning:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He (the woman’s Seed) shall bruise your head.
Jesus bruised the serpent’s head by destroying the tyrannical hold sin and death had exercised over mankind; and, in the power of His victory, Mother Church too continues His work through her priests and prelates authoritatively and publically forgiving sin in the world:
If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.
But in addition to such public conflict with sin in the confessional or internal forum, there is also a much wider attack and more bitter fighting being engaged in by all those faithful disciples of Jesus and true children of Mother Church who have not only been freed from the devil’s power and protected from his snares, not only blessed with the fullness of truth in Mother Church, but also realize themselves to have been called and empowered to fight – by their faith and their witness -- against the sin which still remains in us and in the world around us.
Thus, at every level of her being -- prelates, priests and religious; men, women and children; – Mother Church strives to extend her Lord and Saviour’s Kingdom of love and truth throughout all time, over all the world.
My dear people, at this time especially, we should be supremely grateful to God for the gift of the Faith which is ours; and as today we admire Our Lord’s faithfulness unto death on the mission received from His Father, and as we rejoice in His constant love for us and tender solicitude for our well-being, we should pray that, as His disciples, we too -- in Him -- may remain faithful to death in the Faith and fight the good fight for a share in His Resurrection and eternal glory.
How best can we do this?  According to the Scriptures the best way to respond to God’s great goodness to us in Jesus is to praise Him, to thank Him, to obey Him.  
When it is really so easy to respond faithfully to the Father’s call that first led us to Jesus, why do too many imagine that Christian living is a wearisome, unrewarding (at least here on earth)  struggle?  The answer is simple: such people look too little at God’s goodness and mercy (with examples of which the Scriptures are replete) and too much at themselves and their worldly anxieties and desires.  Let us hear again St. Peter writing to encourage those magnificent early Christians who first faced the power of pagan Rome confident in the name of Jesus:
Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, He gave us new birth into a living hope, the hope of an inheritance reserved in heaven for you, which nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.  Because you put your faith in God, you are under the protection of His power, until the salvation now in readiness is revealed at the end of time.  This is cause for great joy, even though for a little while you may have had to suffer trials of many kinds.  Even gold passes through the assayer’s fire, and much more precious than perishable gold is faith which stands the test.  These trials come so that your faith may prove itself worthy of all praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.  You have not seen Him, yet you love Him; and trusting in Him now without seeing Him you are filled with a glorious joy too great for words, while you are reaping the harvest of your faith, that is, salvation for your souls.
May we too walk in their footsteps, with the joy of hope and gratitude to God in our hearts and His praises with our thanksgiving on our lips.