The Epistle For The Second Sunday After Easter According to the Lectionary commonly used in the Extraordinary

Form of the Rite. BELOVED : Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps; who did not sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. Who, when He was reviled, did not revile : when He suffered He threatened not : but delivered Himself to him that judged Him un justly: who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree: that we being dead to sins, should live to justice : by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray, but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls. EPISTLE, 1 Peter ii. 21-25.

St Thomas Aquinas' Sermon Notes On The Epistle Reading Christ Our Example
Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps-1 Pet 2:21 Five things are noted in this Epistle reading-firstly, the innocence of Our Lord, “Who did not sin” (1 Pet 2:22); secondly, His great patience, “When He suffered, threatened not” (1 Pet 2:23); thirdly, His inexpressible charity, “Who His own self bear our sins in His own Body” (1 Pet 2:24); fourthly, the manifold benefits flowing from these three, “By Whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pet 2:24); fifthly, the steps in which we should follow Christ. I. On the first head it is to be noted, that His innocence is shown in three ways(1) Because He did not sin: “Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” [Heb 7:26] (2) Because He never deceived: “Neither guile was found in his mouth.” The Son of God, Jesus Christ...was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea. For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen” [2 Cor 1:19-20 ]. (3) Because he never did any injure to anyone: “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again,” and “as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth” [Isa 53:7]. II.On the second head it is to be noted, that His patience in His Passion is shewn in three ways(1) In that He voluntarily offered himself: “Committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously”...He was offered because it was His own will” (Isa 53:7 according to Vulgate). (2) Because, unjustly judged, He endured it with great patience. It requires the greatest patience to sustain an unjust sentence: “Many good works have I shown

you...for which of these do you stone me” (Jn 10:32). “This is thank-worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endureth grief, suffering wrongfully” (1 Pet 2:19). (3) Because He did not utter threats against His crucifiers: “When He suffered He threatened not” (1 Pet 2:23). “But I was like a lamb...that is brought to the slaughter” (see Jer 11:19). He prayed for them: “Made intercession for the transgressors,” that they should not perish (see Isa 53:12). III. On the third head it is to be noted, that the inexpressible charity of Christ is shown us in three ways(1) Because He Himself bore our sins: “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). (2) In the manner of His Oblation: “In His own Body He was wpunded for our iniquities” (Isa 53:5). (3) Because He sustained so cruel a death for the taking away of our sins: “On the Tree”- i.e., the Cross. “Obedient unto death, even death on the Cross” (Phil 2:18). IV. On the fourth head it is to be noted, that the death of Christ procured for us a threefold benefit(1) It freed us from the guilt of sin: “We being dead to sins” (1 Pet 2:24). “Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). (2) He restore to us the gift of grace: “Should live unto righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24). “By the obedience of the One shall many be made righteous” (Rom 5:19). “Of His fullness have all we received, and grace upon grace” (Jn 1:15). (3) It delivered us from corruption: “By Whose Stripes we are healed” (1 Pet 2:24). “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa 53:4). V. On the fifth head it should be noted, that the steps in which we should follow Him are three(1) In the purity of innocence: “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44). “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matt 5:8). “Be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Pet 1:15). (2) In the firmness of patience: “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 4:19). “Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Heb 12:3). (3) In charity: “This is the commandment that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). “My foot has held His

step: His way have I kept” (Job 23:11). He who follows him in these steps shall come to the joy of eternal blessedness: “He that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12); to which may Christ Himself, the Light and the Life, bring us. Amen Homily on the Epistle few sentences which I am about to ex
plain are taken from the first Epistle of St. Peter. This is the first time in addressing you that I have had an occasion to comment on the teachings of the Prince of the apostles. As you know, there are extant only two Letters of St. Peter, the second a very short one, and both, of course, storehouses of sacred doctrine. The first Letter was written by St. Peter in Eome, where he had gone with Mark, his inter preter and the writer of the Gospel that bears His name, after his deliverance from prison in Jeru salem, as narrated in the twelfth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. It was written about twelve years after the ascension of Our Lord and ad dressed to the various churches established in

Asia Minor in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia,
Cappadocia, and Bithynia. The argument of the Letter is very similar to that of the Letters of St. Paul to the Bomans and Ephesians. He exhorts the new believers, who must have been mostly recently converted He brews, to make the principles of the Gospel the rule and inspiration of their lives. He urges them to bear up under hatred, vexation, and persecu tion, encouraging them with the hope of a reward to come, and to deal kindly with bad men and with their enemies in the hope of winning them over. And now we will go on to the interpretation of the five verses just read for you. In the preceding verses St. Peter, affection ately, lovingly, and as a father, exhorts those Christians just emerged from Judaism and pagan ism, to nourish themselves as new-born babes with the milk of the divine word, to cling closely to Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone, to refrain themselves from carnal desires, and by a holy life to gain over the pagans. Then he reminds them of their duty to be subject to human authority, tells servants to obey their masters, not only the good but the froward, and if necessary to glory in suffering unjustly. Here St. Peter, not unlike St.

Paul, having gone thus far in his exhortation, puts before his disciples the great, the eternal, and in comparable model of all virtues, Jesus Christ ; he says: "Jesus Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps." My friends, is it possible to live on earth and to be virtuous without suffering in body and mind, without suffering from the world, from our ene-

mies, and from ourselves? No. To live here be
low and to be virtuous means a struggle, and, as a consequence, it means to suffer, and any one who thinks otherwise deceives himself with his eyes open. Now, God for our comfort and instruction has deigned to have His Son, Jesus Christ, go be fore us in this thorny way. His Son suffered more than all men together, and He suffered not for Himself, but for us, that for us He might sat isfy the divine justice. The first purpose of the passion and death of Jesus Christ was to pay the price due for our ransom. We were the guilty ones and as such we should have borne the penalty of our guilt; justice demanded this; but instead Jesus in His love put Himself in our place, and the punishment we should have endured was vis ited upon Him, as Isaias says: "The chastisement of our peace ivas upon Him," and His suffering made us free. The passion and death of Jesus Christ have another purpose, nearly akin to the first ; namely, to give us an example of how to walk in the way of the cross. It is, indeed, a beautiful and a holy thing to exhort and encourage others to walk gen erously in the way of the cross, but it costs little ; to do so oneself, to lead the way, is more difficult, but it is also more efficacious, and this is what Jesus Christ did. His bodily sufferings began at the crib and ended at the tomb. He suffered cold and heat, hunger and toil ; He suffered in the workshop, on the journeys made during His public life ; He suffered poverty and all that poverty entails ; He was beaten and scourged, and finally He was put to death on the cross. But His bodily sufferings

were trifling as compared with His mental sor
rows. Jesus Christ was God and His soul was constantly illuminated by the effulgence of the di vinity. He saw everything with perfect clearness and certainty. No human eye has ever seen or ever will see things human and divine as Jesus saw them. He saw the ignorance of men, their crimes, the malice of His enemies, and all the in iquities that deluge the earth; He saw the past, the present, and the future ; He saw the ruin of so many souls, the creation of His own hands, for which He had offered Himself up as a victim ; He saw the glory of His Father outraged and His

own majesty and dignity disavowed and spurned. What a sorrow was this, what a torture, what a rending of His heart! The grief and torment were all the more cruel and atrocious because no one understood Him and there were few to soften His grief. He was forced to suffer in silence. Jesus was truly a man of sorrows, of continuous, heartfelt, and ineffable sorrows of soul and body ; and as such He drew upon Himself the eyes of all the race of Adam, incessantly suffering in this land of exile, and looking upon Him they were comforted and learned how to suffer and endure. Ah, my friends, if when sorrows come upon us and overwhelm us we had not before our eyes Jesus, the Man of sorrows and King of martyrs, what would become of us? To gaze upon Him, holy and innocent, yet saturated with opprobrium and in agony on the cross, encourages and strengthens us to follow Him along the way of suf fering which He has purpled with His blood! It is of faith that "Jesus did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." St. Peter with these words enforces the truth. We all suffer more or less, but none of us will ever suffer as did Jesus Christ, and this is a further and a most efficacious reason why we should imitate Him. Nor is this all. We suffer and at times our sufferings are very great. But who are we? Poor creatures, and Jesus is the Son of God. What a contrast! Again, we suffer and suffer excessively. But who are we 1 We are only wretched creatures and sin ners, and if we put our sufferings in one pan of the scales and our sins on the other, the latter will far outweigh the former ; and if God should make us suffer in the measure of our sins we should not be able to endure it. Moreover, Jesus, who suf fered those frightful, those accumulated pains which we have endeavored to describe, was holy and innocent and without spot ; the shadow of sin never touched Him, nor could it, for He was the God-Man and sinless. What an encouragement for us in our sufferings, for us who are so guilty and merit such chastisement to have before us a model like Him ! Nor does the Prince of the apostles stop here. After having encouraged us sinners to suffer, by setting before us the example of the innocent Jesus, he goes on to speak of the way in which Jesus suffered, and in this respect also he wishes that we should take Him for a pattern. "Who when He ivas reviled, did not revile; when He suffered, He threatened not." In these words, I fancy, St. Peter wishes to describe what is char acteristic of the whole life of Jesus, without citing any specific fact. Jesus was atrociously calumniated when the Jews publicly, and not once but

often, called Him a friend of publicans and sin ners, a wine-bibber and a Samaritan; when they said that He had a devil, that He incited the people to sedition, that He was an enemy of Caesar, a malefactor, a seducer of the people, that He was a blasphemer, and worse than a thief and a homi cide. And to all these vile slanders and shocking outrages Jesus either answered with dignity and meekness or He was silent. When He was abused He did not threaten, but as a lamb submitted to be led to slaughter. In this way did the innocent Jesus suffer, and so also should we. But what really happens? What do we see others do? What do we do ourselves? At the slightest af front, which possibly we have brought upon our selves, we show resentment, complain bitterly, rouse the neighborhood, indulge in loud and bois terous talk, demand satisfaction, fume with anger, break out into opprobrious language, and it may be into blasphemies and imprecations. Truly we should make a study of our pattern, Jesus Christ, "who when He was reviled, did not revile; when He suffered He threatened not. What a beauti ful sight and one worthy of admiration is that of a Christian who is calm and dignified while he is being slandered and insulted. Pa tience and charity do not forbid us to seek rep aration and justice for wrongs received, and in certain cases it may be a duty to demand this, but it is always most unbecoming for a Christion to return injury for injury, or invective for invective. St. Peter continuing to speak of our supreme model, Jesus Christ, says: "He delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly." Consider these words, my friends: "Jesus delivered Him self to him that judged Him unjustly." We learn from them that Jesus Christ suffered and died, not by compulsion, but freely of His own will; freely did He give Himself into the hands of His enemies; He shackled, if I may say so, His om nipotence, and permitted them to do with Him as they would. He Himself had said in express terms : "I lay down my life, no man taketh it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself; I lay it down that I may take it up again; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again." 1 He could not more clearly affirm that He was free to suffer or not to suffer, to die or not to die. And in truth if Jesus Christ had not been perfectly free to suffer and to die He would not have been a perfect man. His passion would have been with out merit, and it would have been preposterous to set Him before us as a pattern to be copied. Who is this into whose power Jesus gave Him self to be unjustly judged? As reference is made

here to a single unjust judge who pronounced sen tence upon Jesus Christ, it would seem that none other than Pilate can be meant. True, Annas and Caiphas, the high priests, passed judgment upon Him, and so also did Herod, and they judged Him unjustly, but, though more guilty than Pilate, St. Peter does not mention them, since their sentences could not be carried into execution if Jesus had not been sentenced by Pilate also. Hence the sen tence that insured the death of Jesus Christ was that of Pilate, and therefore St. Peter speaks of him in particular. Jesus committed Himself into the hands of Pilate, a pagan judge and a for eigner, because He recognized in him a power that came from on high, 1 although unjustly used. My friends, let us learn from the words of St. Peter not only to respect authority, no matter who may exercise it, but also to suffer the wrongs that are sometimes done in its name. Whoever in this world suffered as unjustly as did Jesus Christ at the hands of Pilate! He was innocent, declared so, and yet He was scourged, crowned with thorns, and condemned to die on the cross. And withal, He gave Himself into his power, only saying that he who betrayed Him into his hands was guilty of a greater sin, being instigated by hatred. To suffer injustice is not to approve of it ; and while we respect authority we can condemn the abuse of its exercise. This is difficult to do, I know, because the injustice that is suffered in the name of authority is so intimately connected with it as seemingly to be inseparable from it, and still it is necessary, if we would not be culpable, not to confuse one with the other. You have had, if you have not now, a father and a mother, and their authority is next after that of God ; this you have respected and you do still. If perchance they abused that authority, or if they do so still, what would have been or what would be now your duty? Could you have rightly refused to recognize it or could you now? By no means. In your heart you could not approve of their abuse of it, but you would respect the authority itself, because it is from God. So also, allowing for different condi tions, must we respect any authority whatever, in spite of the fact that it is sometimes abused. In the Old Law the high priest once a year per formed the solemn rite of offering the scapegoat ; putting his hands upon the goat s head and con fessing his own sins and the sins of the people, and praying that they might rest upon the head of the goat, he turned it out into the desert. 1 Here St. Peter refers to that mysterious rite, which was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, who voluntarily

took upon Himself the sins of all men, who bore them on the cross and in His body, or in the suf ferings of His body, and expiated and cancelled them in the blood which He shed. He is the true Jacob, who covered Himself with the skin of the kid, or rather He is the true scapegoat, which, loaded with the sins of the world, 2 goes forth out of the world, is lifted up on high on the cross, dies as one rejected and under a curse, and, ac cording to the phrase of St. Paul, reconciles heaven with earth. When Jesus died upon the cross and washed away sin in His blood, we were loosed from its yoke, and, as it were, dead to it, and began to live to justice, healed by His stripes. To make the matter clearer: A man is con demned to death ; another, who is innocent, offers to die in his stead ; the one dies that the other may live ; the guilty one, once justice is satisfied, ceases to be guilty ; he is rehabilitated and just ; he is, as it were, dead to his crimes ; he lives again to virtue, honesty, and justice. That guilty one represents each of us ; Jesus Christ offers Himself as our ran som, He pays the price with His blood, and we are rehabilitated, justified, and healed by His stripes. St. Peter, after setting Jesus Christ before his spiritual children as the great pattern of love and forgiveness, closes his exhortation to them with these beautiful words: "You were as sheep going astray, but you are now converted to the Shep herd and Bishop of your souls." A few years back you were still Jews and Gentiles, you were going astray in the ways of error; you were like those poor lambs that stray away from the flock and lose themselves in dense forests and trackless deserts and are momentarily in danger of being devoured by wild beasts. God took pity on you; He called you back and drew you gently to Him by His grace; you obeyed and returned to Him, the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. Jesus Christ is the Shepherd of souls, since He leads them to the pastures of life and defends them against the wolves that lie in wait for them ; He is the Bishop, 1 that is, He watches over them, directs, and guards them. He was the Shepherd and Bishop of the apostles, of the disciples, and of all believers as long as He lived on this earth, and He will ever be the Shepherd and Bishop in the person of those who continue His work through the ages. These words, lambs, shepherd, and bishop, re mind us all that we have each our duties, I as your shepherd, and you as lambs of the fold of Christ. My duty is to teach you, to go before you by the

example of an irreproachable life ; listen to me, and to follow me. Let charge these duties faithfully, and ceive our reward from the Prince of and the Bishop of bishops.

your duty is to us both dis we shall re shepherds,

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