Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Peter 1:3-9; Mark 10:17-27)
Scholars doubt whether St. Peter the Apostle actually wrote the letter from which today’s first reading is drawn. As always, they provide multiple reasons for making such a shocking charge. First, they ask if a fisherman from Galilee could have written the eloquent Greek of the letter. Then, they wonder why Peter would write to the churches in Asia Minor where Paul was the principal evangelizer. Also, they note that the continual reference to persecution bespeaks a time after Peter’s own martyrdom when persecution in Asia Minor was more likely.
Today’s passage demonstrates both the eloquent argumentation of the author and the reference to persecution. It speaks of “a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus” which is a sophisticated reference to Baptism. It also refers to the “trials” which the addressees are experiencing as ways to prove their love for Christ.
We should not hastily conclude that a biblical author is not the one purported in the work itself. At the same time we must recognize that such a charge does not undermine our faith. The use of a false name as the author of a religious document did not create the scandal in the early Church that it does today. Writers frequently used the name of a famous personage when they tried to faithfully reflect the ideas of the celebrity. In any case we are reminded by the Second Vatican Council that Biblical inerrancy does not guarantee the historical accuracy of every detail but the general truth that God has revealed for our salvation. We see in First Peter an inspiring testimony that we must cling to the promise of salvation which faith in Christ holds.