At that time Peter began to tell Jesus, «We have given up everything to follow you». Jesus answered, «Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you: even in the midst of persecution he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention: Many who now are first will be last, and the last, first».
We are naturally ambitious and many of us find it as a good approach to place us in the high pedestal. God always wishes that we grow and in our growth God’s will get accomplished. This growth is not limited to material or external accomplishments, rather our proximity in understanding the will of God and the rigorous application of this Will. It is in this application of God’s will that we are called to choose and reject. Being faithful to this will and our choice of God as the only source of life, will be certainly rewarded by God, because we will have God in our side. With God and in Him, we need nothing more than what is given.
The logic of this leaving behind everything and the truth of following Christ radically, is not to receive a special grace or favour from God, rather, because we have already received everything from God that we leave what we have, for God and for the Gospel. It is better understood by this image of emptying oneself of all that we have accumulated, to be filled by God and certainly by His goodness.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
The spiritual sense of leaving the family, by Clement of Alexandria, 150-215 A.D.
"Do not let this passage trouble you. Put it side by side with the still harder saying Jesus delivered in another place in the words, 'Whoever hates not father, and mother, and children, and his own life besides, cannot be my disciple' (Luke 14:26). Note that the God of peace, who exhorts us to love our enemies, does not arbitrarily require us literally to hate or abandon those dearest to us. But if we are to love our enemies, it must be in accordance with right reason that, by analogy we should also love our nearest relatives... But insofar as one's father, or son, or brother, becomes for you a hindrance to faith or an impediment to godly life, one should then not collude with that temptation. Attend to the spiritual, rather than the fleshly, meaning of the command." (excerpt from SALVATION OF THE RICH MAN 22.13)
«Truly, there is no one who has left house for my sake and for the Gospel who will not receive his reward in the present time and in the world to come eternal life»
Fr. Jordi SOTORRA i Garriga
(Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, just like that landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard, the Lord is seeking disciples, followers and friends. His, is a universal call. A captivating offer, the Lord entrust us with! On one condition, though. One condition that may dishearten us: «For my sake and for the Gospel» you are to leave «house, brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands» (cf. Mk 10:29).
But, is there any compensation? Shall there be any reward? Shall we make any gain out of it? Peter, in the name of the Apostles, reminds the Master: «We have given up everything to follow you» (Mk 10:28), as if asking: what benefit shall we get?
The Lord's promise is very generous: «but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time (…) and in the age to come eternal life» (Mk 10:30). He cannot be surpassed as far as generosity. But He adds: «even in the midst of persecution». Jesus is very realistic and He does not want to deceive anybody. To be a disciple of his, if we are truly so, will bring us troubles and problems. However, Jesus considers persecutions and troubles a reward, for they help us to grow, if we accept and live through them as an opportunity to gain in maturity and responsibility. Whatever act of sacrifice makes us more like Jesus Christ who, by dying in the Cross, saves us.
We have always time to revise our life and get closer to Jesus Christ, especially during the times of Advent and Lent. Through prayer and the sacraments, these times and all times, we can find out whether we are amongst the disciples He is seeking, and decide which our answer must be to that call. Next to radical responses (such as those from the Apostles) there are others. For many, “to leave house, brothers or sisters, or father or mother…” will just mean whatever unable us to live deeply in Jesus' close friendship and, as a consequence, become his testimony before the world. And this is urgent, don't you think so?