Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary time
(2 Peter 1:2-7; Mark 12:1-12)
The Greek language has different words for love. Love is eros when it is acquisitive of one’s own benefit. Lovers are known for this kind of love. Love is charis when it seeks mutual spiritual benefit. Charis is characteristic of love between friends who count on one another in thick and thin. The purest kind of love is agape. Agape seeks nothing for oneself but only the other’s betterment because the other already possesses some good. God loves humans out of agape. The reading from Peter today offers Christians a strategy for developing perfect love.
But it must be said that agape is not strictly a human enterprise. God’s grace must precede it as the author indicates in the initial verse. Still it requires effort, not to complement God’s work but to live it. In a series of calls to mounting sacrifice – virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, and mutual affection -- Peter shows his readers how their faith can end in perfect love or agape.
Some may balk at Peter’s call. The goal, after all, is not the accumulation of either fortune or fun. Many will begin the quest and flag along the way because of the increasing difficulty of the challenge. We hope to persevere – to become saints like Jesus himself. But if we too falter in the trial, we still can turn to Jesus for mercy.