If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men. - St. Rose of Lima: 1586 –1617: was a Spanish colonist in Lima, Peru, who became known for both her life of severe asceticism and her care of the needy of the city.)
Gospel Text: (MK 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.”
In today’s Gospel from Mass Jesus offers a direct explanation of the logic of discipleship, and then sums up His teaching with a brief saying that we can take with us today.
Jesus explains that both in this world and the next, a disciple’s sacrifice bears fruit. In “this present age”, material sacrifices are compensated by the superabundance shared in by the church, the assembly of disciples gathered with Jesus. All the more, “in the age to come”, eternal life with Jesus is the consequence of following Him. Jesus’ logic lays bare what St. Francis of Assisi expressed in his canticle, “It is in giving that we receive, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
It’s undoubtedly true that there are many things that one can do on earth that are temporarily pleasurable and inconsistent with following Christ. We’re all human and sometimes fall into them, but one of the many beauties of Christianity is that Christ forgives us if we ask and sincerely try to do better.
Jesus gives us a brief saying to sum up the logic of discipleship. “Many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
The question to ponder from that statement is: Are you willing to be “last” in the present age in order to be “first” in the age to come? That my dear friends is where the rubber meets the road and in many ways is the essence of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.