1 Peter 3:15-18
This letter addresses Christians suffering in various ways because of their devotion to Jesus Christ, encouraging them to be true to their baptismal calling.
Persecution by those hostile to Christianity became rampant in the days of the early Church, with the most extreme cases ending in imprisonment and death. Persecution more often, however, took subtler forms, such as mockery, shunning, harassment, and economic restrictions. Even today, those of differing religious (or social) beliefs experience these types of ugly discrimination in cultures that consider such beliefs incompatible with contemporary ideals.
The Second Reading instructs those undergoing trials and tribulations to use Christ as a model. Christians and those under terrible persecution must always be prepared to face sufferings with hope and unshakable determination. More importantly, they should do so gently, with respect even for their persecutors, because 1) it doesn’t do anyone any good if one stoops down to their level of hate and 2) because such action both bears testimony to Jesus Christ and reveals the true character of those who cause their struggles.
If one must suffer, it is better to suffer for good actions, rather than for evil behavior. In this way, those who find themselves in a “trial by fire” (1 Peter 4:12) both imitate and bear testimony to Christ, remaining faithful to the new life of the baptized. With him, they pass over from death to true, transformed life.