Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:15-18
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Have you ever been criticized for doing the right thing? What happened?
15 Place Christ first in your hearts. Always be ready to explain your hope to everyone who asks. 16 Answer all questions gently, treat others as if God is always present, and have a clear conscience. This way, when others talk about you, those who hate you for the good you do in the name of Christ will be put to shame.
17 If God want you to suffer, it is far better to suffer for doing something good than to suffer for doing something evil. 18 After all, Christ suffered one time for sins. He was innocent but suffered for the guilty. He was put to death, but God made his spirit live, so he could lead you to God.
14b Do not tremble in fear about them or be troubled, 15 but make holy CHRIST the LORD in your hearts, always be prepared for a (verbal) defense to all asking you a reason about the hope among you, 16 but (do it) with gentleness and (holy) fear, having a good conscience, so that, in whatever (way) you have talked about, the (ones) hating your good behavior in CHRIST might be shamed (themselves).
7 For (it is) better to suffer doing good, if the will of God desires (it), than doing evil. 18 For CHRIST suffered once concerning sins, the righteous (ONE) in behalf of the unrighteous (ones), so that, having been put do death in the flesh but having been brought alive in the spirit, HE might lead you to God.
3:14b "Do not tremble in fear about them or be troubled" The author advised calm in the face of those who oppressed the community, despite the good those in the community performed.
There is an old, but cynical saying: "No good deed goes unpunished." It seems no matter what intentions we might have, the good we do is scrutinized and criticized. Every saint who ever lived has had detractors. Mother Teresa was chided for accepting money of "questionable origins" and wasting resources on the dying. Pope John Paul II was accused of seeking "pop star" status, while leaving the affairs of the Church in the hands of those with questionable agendas. No saint lives without opposition from some quarter. No good deed goes unpunished.
The author of 1 Peter reminded his audience of that fact. If we live for Christ, the author said plainly, we will be criticized. The question of character comes in response. The author advised a dual approach to such criticism: have an answer ready for the critique and answer him or her gently and reverently. This way, we can live with a clear conscience and the critic will shame him or herself.
In the end, if we suffer, it is far better to suffer for the good we do. In this way, we can walk in the footsteps of Christ. He suffered for sinners. He died but now lives with us, so he can lead us to God.
No good deed might go unpunished. But, even in criticism, we show others the way to Christ.
How has the criticism of others strengthen you? Your faith? Your efforts to do good for others?