1 Peter 1:10-16
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 the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…"
These are comforting words from today’s Scripture readings. Jesus encourages us. Jesus reminds us of the abundant rewards of leaving everything behind and preaching the Gospel, proclaiming the Kingdom of God. We are asked to give up everything in our lives which might prevent us from focusing on the Gospel message. So what are the hindrances in my own life, what do I need to "give up" in order to be free to preach the Kingdom of God?
As I age I have realized that material things are losing their meaning and grip on my life. I’m not so entangled in my belongings anymore and I don’t really fear "giving them up." The allure of money, power and position has faded as I realize that indeed "money can’t buy you love" and being "first" is a temporary experience. Jesus reminds us of this in the Gospel reading; "But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first."
I’ve also realized that relationships, so important and vital in our personal and communal lives, cannot be my sole source of support in the Kingdom of God. Solitude reveals the truth that all my relationships with others flow from and are tied to my relationship with God. It really doesn’t matter how many people "friend" me on Facebook.
So what do I need to give up so I will be free to preach the Kingdom of God? For myself, and I think for many others today, giving up fear is a great place to start. Fear has a way of driving us toward the middle of every issue when it comes time to speak up. Many of us move toward the statistical mean of every situation in an effort to be seen as a rational, measured, balanced, middle class Christian. Today’s Gospel doesn’t seem to be a call toward this type of calculated approach to following Jesus.
As Passionists we proclaim the heart of the Gospel as we preach Christ’s love for us on the Cross. We can’t afford to be timid or fearful as we do so. Our world longs for and desperately needs this message of love. Let us pray together and support each other, giving up our fear and preaching the passion as we stand with the poor, oppressed and powerless of our world.
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.