1 Peter 4:12
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you.
One of the disadvantages of prosperity is that it has badly warped our sense of what the universe owes us. When St. Peter wrote the words in today’s verse, his audience was quite literally facing a fiery ordeal, as in getting burnt alive, or fed to lions, or crucified upside down in Peter’s case. His response to this was “Don’t think it’s strange.” After all, their Lord had been crucified, so why not them too? It is cold (if not very comforting) logic that they should expect terrible things to come in this world, since it’s a terrible world. These days, however, we flabby Americans react with horror, not to the real horrors of slavery and crucifixion, AIDS and murder which still afflict the Church in Africa and elsewhere, but to the fake horror of a twitch in the stock market or a downturn in the weather or whatever other trivial inconvenience tonight’s news chooses to honk and blat about. We have the most inflated sense of entitlement in the history of the world. And so St. Peter’s words become, if anything, all the more urgent to us to not think it “strange” when tough times hit. Our tough times are nothing compared to the rest of the world’s. So let us make use of the blessings we have for the good of those who are really in need. That way, when our own tough times come, we will have prepared our hearts for God’s world.