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."
Prayer: Once again, Lord, I come to you to
pray. Even though I cannot see you, I trust that
you are present and want very much to instruct
me in your teachings. In the same way that
you demonstrate your love for me by spending this time
with me, I want to express my love for
you by dedicating this time to you with a spirit
of faith, confidence and attention. Here I am, Lord,
to listen to you and respond with love.
Petition: Lord, help me to have a
pure intention in my acts of self-denial.
1. Peter’s Question: At
first glance Peter seems to be selfish, as if
he were saying, “We have given up everything, now
what’s in it for us?” His question is not prompted
by selfishness, but rather is a response to Jesus’
previous statement that it is very hard for a
rich man to enter heaven. In light of the difficulty
of riches, Peter wants to know what the chances
of entering the kingdom of God will be for
someone who has given up everything to follow Christ. How
detached from material possessions must we be in order
to be assured a place in heaven? Jesus does
not give us a concrete answer to this question, but
he does tell us that those who have given
up everything will not only receive a reward of eternal
life in the age to come, but also ample
reward in this life.
2. The Real Motivation: Reward is not
given only to those who simply give things up, but
rather to those who give things up for the
sake of Christ and for love of the Gospel.
Sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice — or for that
matter, sacrifice for a selfish reason — is worth
nothing in God’s eyes. Sacrifice has value only when
it is done for the sake of Christ and his
Gospel, for love. Our intention in self-denial must be
to glorify Christ or to witness to the Gospel message.
Is this the real motivation of my self-denial?
Eternal Life: The reward for our self-denial begins in
this life and has its culmination in the life
to come. The difference between one and the other is
that in this life there are also persecutions. In
this life we enjoy both the love of Christ and
suffering persecutions for his sake. This life is a
life of purification of our love, purification of our
intentions. By proving our love now, we will enjoy life
with Christ for all eternity.
Christ: Lord, you know how attached I am
to myself, my possessions and my comforts. Help me
to give up what I need to give up —
out of love for you and your Gospel, not
out of love for myself or what I might get
out of it. Help me not to be afraid
to deny myself for the sake of drawing nearer to
Resolution: I will give
up something that keeps me from drawing closer to God.