by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
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2 Pet. 1: 2-6
Mk. 12: 1-12
In the beginning of his second letter St. Peter says “May grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (I Pet. 1:2).
Grace and peace are difficult to find in the contemporary world. We want to feel forgiven, we want to feel okay, but grace has to come from someone, and so we “go it alone” and can never feel the grace that leads to true peace. Instead we look for acceptance from our peers and from the world, and look for moments of peace in our leisure activities.
Yet this is always ultimately a dead end. We try desperately to be happy, running from one temporary pleasure to another. We try to fill ourselves up, and to find peace, but it always seems out of reach. We fill our free time with whatever temporarily makes us happy, whether it’s with sports, television, movies, video games, working out, sex, alcohol, or whatever else. We never feel satisfied, always having to move on to the next thing to keep feeling okay in a never-ending cycle.
Worldly pleasures like those listed are absolutely fine when ordered well and not abused. Humans are made to work hard and then to enjoy their leisure time. The Incarnation – God caring enough about the world to become a member of the world, a human being – proved definitively that the physical world is good and that it is sanctified in him.
However, nothing outside of a relationship with the God who created us will give us true peace. We know that we are forgiven, as a free gift of grace, when we have “knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
On our own we are left on an island, and anyone who is honest for a second knows that they aren’t big enough solely in themselves to find true peace, as though it is something that we have in our own little selves, something that we can tap into and know as easily as it is to turn on a lightbulb. This is unrealistic hubris of the highest regard.
Only when we humble ourselves do we realize that we need something, someone, outside of ourselves to find and know true peace.
The radical teaching of Christianity – that God himself is humble, humble enough to become one of us and face all of the evil in the world head on – is what separates it from every other religion. Christianity teaches us to be humble, not as a vague rule, but with God himself becoming humble as an example for us all. This humility leads to acceptance of something outside of ourselves, which opens us up to receive God’s grace and peace.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.