Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
As Jesus and His apostles quietly watch the young man walk away, Peter speaks up as though to say, “What about us?” They had just heard that it was hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God, to submit to His reign and be ordered to Him; what of those who have given up everything?
They receive an astonishing answer: those who give up everything for the sake of the Gospel will receive a hundred times more in this present age. Think of it: an apostle gives up a home and family; he receives in kind the Church and all its members as a home and family wherever he travels. “Behold, your mother” Jesus says to His beloved disciple from the Cross (John 19:27), and so the apostle received the Mother of all. Children? Many apostles never married and thus gave up children as well as wives. As Christ’s priests, were they not the spiritual fathers of countless children born into new life through the baptism they ministered? Of lands we can be assured of this: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God…[and] whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.” (1 John 5:1-5)
Jesus warns of persecutions, which He speaks of in John 15:18-20, reminding us that “because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” But do not be afraid, for He also says that, “in the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33). Those who reject the world will suffer, and those who suffer for His sake will receive everlasting life. Thus those who are first in the world—those ordered to their wealth—shall be last to enter the Kingdom of God. The world’s least—those who have God as their only possession—shall be first.
It is challenging and, frankly, unpopular to make sacrifices for the sake of Christ; the world takes tremendous offence. As we approach the beginning of Lent let us take courage in the face of the world’s pressure and seek not its passing favors but rather the love of Christ; let our Lenten sacrifices really seek first the Kingdom of God. Let our life this Lent reflect the famous boast of the impoverished Paul: “…I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (Phil. 3:8)