No Compromise

Mark 10: 28-31
Sir 35: 1-12 / Psa 50

…no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time… with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
(Mark 10:29,30)

To those who serve unselfishly,
God’s blessings flow abundantly;
With grateful hearts let’s strive to be
His channels of generosity.

Then Peter began to say to Jesus, “Lord, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:28-31)

Reflection

As usual, it is Simon Peter, the ever brash and spontaneous one who had to speak out what was probably in the minds of the apostles: “What’s in this for us?” But instead of chastising Peter for being too forward and demanding, our Lord gave him and the others His personal assurance that they would all receive a hundred times more what they had bargained for. But with a caveat: “with persecutions”, followed by eternal reward in God’s kingdom. And then Jesus added these strange words for them (and us) to ponder: “But many that are first will be last, and the last first.”

Those of us who have made a commitment to follow our Lord Jesus (whether clergy or laity) know that there was a considerable cost in making that decision. First of all, we no longer lived for ourselves alone (nor even for our loved ones), but have put Jesus and the Gospel up front and in the center of our lives. We’ve had to sacrifice some of our quality time with our children or grandchildren. More so, we had to discard certain activities or practices that are not consonant with our renewed life in the Spirit (boys’ night out, adult movie pictures or videos, gambling, to name a few). We could no longer keep company with certain friends who feel uncomfortable mixing with members of our community. And hardest of all, we had to make critical adjustments in the way we used to conduct our business or professional affairs. In all our dealings, (especially in the payment of taxes) honesty and integrity must prevail.

We have the assurance of Jesus, however, that He would not give us hardships or responsibilities that are beyond our capabilities. He said in another Gospel passage, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me… For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt.11:28-30). Jesus knows our hearts, and appreciates that the sacrifices we are willingly undergoing are borne out of love for Him, for our blessings and for what we have become because of His teachings and the wonders He has wrought in our lives.

Not everyone, however, responds to the call of Jesus. It is a rare privilege to be His disciple. It’s a ‘leap in the dark,’ and hardly a walk in the park. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. . . For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Mt.16:24-25,27).

Today’s First Reading says it quite eloquently: “Give to the Most high as He has given to you, generously, according to your means. For the Lord is one who always repays, and He will give back to you sevenfold.” (Sir.35:9-10) As Jesus said, we can never outdo God in His generosity. But He expects us to outdo ourselves in being generous as well. I believe that was what He meant when He said, “Many that are first will be last, and the last first.” If we humble ourselves by “being last” in giving our all, then God will welcome us among the first into His kingdom.

We thank you, Father for the little miracles that You manifest in our lives, as well as the persecutions that develop our character in the pattern of our Lord Jesus. They increase our faith in Your Providence, and draw us closer to You and Your Son. Amen.

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