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Following Our Lord
Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes I think about your awesome power over all of creation and wonder whether my meager efforts are bearing fruit. Grant me the grace to know that every step that I take away from worldly concerns and toward you is a step in the right direction, a direction leading towards eternal life in your Son, Jesus Christ.
- Beginning the Conversation: Peter “began” what appeared to be a complaint as he addressed Our Lord. He didn’t finish his thought, but he didn’t need to say another word; Jesus heard his petition and knew what unspoken words lay in waiting. Can we make our complaints a prayer? Can we voice every concern, every pain, every longing, honestly to our Lord, reserving nothing—not anger, grief, or any other emotion? Yes, we can. What is the difference between “I am so angry!” and “Lord, I am so angry!”? The former simply expresses strong emotion. The latter is a prayer, which evokes the power of God on our behalf. May we hide nothing from the Lord and approach him frequently, with all of our gratitude and with all of our worries.
- A Good Investment: Jesus gently reminded Peter, and reminds us, that following him and living his Gospel does not really consist of “giving up” anything. He promises he will fulfill our deepest desires in ways we never imagined, and to a much greater degree—one hundredfold, in fact. We also believe, however, that since Jesus “makes all things new” (Revelation 21:5), following him means accepting the fact that our old ways of thinking and behaving will change as our desires come to more closely mirror his. Should we be surprised if persecutions accompany this deep fulfillment? As recorded by Mark, we can expect them right along with blessings. May we not despair at trials we experience, but look for the blessings Jesus promises as well.
- Hope, with Humility: The hundredfold rewards in this age pale in comparison to a life spent face-to-face with God in eternity. As Pope Benedict XII wrote nearly eight centuries ago, referring to the elect that have attained their eternal reward, “these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face-to-face, without the mediation of any creature.” Christ makes it plain as he comes to the end of this Gospel passage that such an eternal reward awaits those who sacrifice for the Kingdom. This is so affirming, so full of hope! But he also warned his disciples, and warns us now, not to become too sure of ourselves. We are not to be “first” in proclaiming how we have given up our worldly attachments; rather, we must humbly and lovingly live this detachment on earth, hopeful that our God who sees in secret (Matthew 6:4) fulfills his promise for such souls: a place at the heavenly banquet.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I know that you desire that I take up my place at your heavenly banquet. Thank you for preparing such a place for me, your undeserving servant. Thank you also for providing me with examples, like your saints, of sinful people who have given up worldly attachments in their successful pursuit of a life in eternal communion with you. Grant me the grace to detach from things that keep me from turning to you as I should.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, contemplating the trials that you chose to endure for me, and consider what sacrifice I should endure for the good of some loved one as Lent approaches.
For Further Reflection: See what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us about Heaven (CCC 1023-1029).
Andrew Rawicki and his wife, JoAnna, live in Irving, Texas, near seven of their nine grandchildren. A convert from Judaism, Andrew entered the Church in 1991 and has been a member of the Regnum Christi spiritual family since 2001. He has served as the Regnum Christi Local Director for Dallas since July 2020.