The Gospel according to Mark (10:28-31)
Peter began to say to Jesus,
‘We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.
But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me to consider it a privilege to serve You and Your people. Let me not think of what I may get out of it, but only how I can share Your love and Your mercy with my brothers and sisters today and every day. Amen.
Today may seem a bit different as for the first time in more than three months, we are again in Ordinary Time. This past Sunday, we celebrated the end of the Easter Season, Pentecost, and now the color of the Church is again green and will stay that way all the way to the end of the liturgical year in November. I don’t know about you, but that feels an especially long way away right about now.
Our return to Ordinary Time reminds us that our lives of faith are lived in these ordinary moments. While some may be graced to have amazing spiritual experiences, most of us will not. That’s okay, though, as God wishes to speak to us through the ordinary. Sometimes we may think that God asks an awful lot from us. He wants us to love others, to give of ourselves to others and to try to live a life that draws those others closer to Him. If you look at our faith life like that, you may wind up feeling like Peter did at the start of today’s Gospel, and want to echo with him the same question: “Look at what we have given up for You, Lord. Don’t You care?” (okay, I’ll admit to paraphrasing a little)
Look at Jesus’ response – He does not say to Peter, “that’s okay, Peter, let me show you all that you will get in this life for being my disciple.” He also does not say to him, “If that’s how you feel, maybe you shouldn’t be my disciple at all. Maybe you should just go.” No, Jesus reminds Peter that it’s perhaps a longer-term goal than just being rewarded now. And, then He goes on to encourage Peter, but to also remind him that there would probably be some difficulty as well.
That is the true tale of a Christian life. Jesus promises never to leave us, and He never does. But, as He did Peter, He doesn’t shy away from telling us that living life as His follower may come at a cost. Yes, we do have to try to live a life of love and care for others, and it may mean tending to those activities when we may really want to do something that is only for ourselves. Maybe others will shun us, because they are uncomfortable when they see how we live out our faith. Jesus’ promise in today’s Gospel is that no matter what we think we have given up, He has so much more for each of us.
Jesus knows that each of us is a human being, and that we get tired and cranky from time to time. Some days, we may just not feel very loving and be inclined to ask God if He could just do it without us for today. The amazing thing is that God won’t make us serve Him or act in the way that He wishes us to act. The decision is always entirely up to us. He just gives us the opportunity, and the grace to love even when everything inside us is screaming at us to just close in on ourselves. His grace doesn’t necessarily take away the difficulty or discomfort, but I will say that acting on that grace will reward us in ways we can only imagine.
It’s never easy to say to God, “Okay, God, You’re in charge. Where do You want me to go today?” But, if we do say that each day, and be willing to listen and to act, God will surprise us. He will show us a place to be where we can shine His light to someone in darkness. He will be with us, and will give us the strength we need for the journey. Isn’t that all that we could ever want? Let us be open to God’s prompting to us today, and to place ourselves under the command of the Lord of the Universe, so that He can help remake the world through us.
Closing Prayer: Jesus, help me today to love ever more like You do, and to shine a light of hope wherever you send me. Guide me and keep drawing me closer and closer to You. Amen.
Action for the Day: Take some time (this morning, or anytime today) and allow yourself to be quiet in God’s presence. Ask Him to show you where He can use you, and for the grace to be His instrument in someone’s life today!