“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.”

The gospel reading for today (Mk 10:28-31) immediately follows yesterday’s episode of Jesus encountering the rich man.  The headline of this post is Jesus’ response to Peter proclaiming, “We have given up everything and followed you” (v. 28) after the rich man had left.  Jesus concludes by saying, “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first” (v. 31).  Jesus’ response is difficult and hopeful at the same time.  Difficult because it is not easy setting behind or giving up on goods like family and a homestead; more so, because of the promise of persecutions as well.  Hope comes because the Lord assures us of a multiplication of family and land, and most importantly, eternal life if we only follow Him as completely and perfectly as possible.  But it can be difficult for us to see that second part.  How does losing wonderful things like family and home turn into such gain as Jesus describes?  And persecution is not a wonderful thought.  The virtue of hope, already mentioned, is necessary, but the other theological virtues of faith and love are also indispensable.  Faith manifesting in obedience, hope because Jesus tells us the way to the desired outcome, and love because we do all the things Jesus asks here because He is Lord and He commands us to love God and neighbor.  But we can also see the results here in this life.  When we pray and act selflessly do we not gain many, many brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers in the Lord?  Do we not conquer lands for the Lord by spreading the Good News?  And can we not find joy in persecution (becoming more and more prevalent in the world and in this country) because we hold fast to the truth (cf. Mt 5:11-12, Acts 5:40-41, Jas 1:2).  And then, when we have completed the race (cf. 1 Cor 9:24-27) and fought the good fight (1 Tim 6:12) and this short time on earth gives way to eternity, we will long to hear: “‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy’” (Mt 25:21).

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