Those who suffer for Christ are likely to suffer twice. St. Peter offers us a more hopeful version this Sunday, because he tells us of the victory Christ already won for us. I offer you the pessimistic version today because it is important to remember Christ’s victory isn’t usually for us in this life, in fact it rarely is.
In this life, we must remember that only when we follow St. Peter’s advice to keep our consciences clear will the truth be our friend. We all know what the alternative feels like. When we don’t want to even admit to ourselves what weighs upon our souls. When we don’t speak the truth because it would make us feel like a hypocrite. In these moments we have to remember that we suffer our own shame, but are called to stand for the truth nonetheless.
Of course, there are also times when we can stand in the truth with a clear conscience. And even then, might someone ridicule us for this? All it takes is a bit of envy to separate people, and the truth doesn’t seem to matter. In these moments, it rarely feels better simply because we are in the right. The pain we feel is still real, because the animosity between us is still real. And so we suffer for a second time, when we realize that our righteousness doesn’t always profit us in this life.
This is precisely what St. Peter was speaking about. In order to sanctify the Lord in our hearts, we must allow this life in the flesh to be put to death. Only then will we truly live for the Lord, and so be brought to life in the Spirit.