Tuesday of the 8th week of the year
By JS Benitez
In the gospel, Jesus promises eternal life for those who give up their loved ones and possessions for His sake and the Gospel. He says, “There is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for me and for the Gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times more….,” (vv. 29-30). But of course giving up something or someone is not only for priests and religious who belong to the so called ‘consecrated life’ that renounce all personal property for the sake of imitating Christ more closely. On the other hand Jesus does not restrict His promise to the religious only. It is because if we learn to give up something for the sake of witnessing to Christ’s presence in the world we may receive eternal life too.
What does God ask us to give up? For the apostles, it could mean their hovels, rickety boats, some old fishermen’s nets and of course the whole world. By doing this, presupposes much great generosity, untiring effort and sacrifices. Somebody said that the word ‘sacrifice’ comes from Latin word sacrificium that means, “To make holy”. It is to take something that is on the natural level, something that is dear to us and to offer it to God; we make it holy. If we are trying to be selfish, bribe God, extort Him or anything else, that is anything but holy and therefore it fails to be much of a sacrifice.
For us, what God wants us to give up is maybe we leave behind our family and friends if we move to a new place. God wants us to give up some friends because they infect us with worldly things and immorality. We can let go some of our time or money due to the needs around us if we want to do something about it. Perhaps we are being asked to give up a cherished possession for the sake of those who need it more than us. Giving up is hard because we are afraid that God won’t replace what we lose and yet He wants to give us even more.
In relation to this giving up I read this personal story of a church leader and at the same time a mother. According to her, she learned this giving up way back in the 1980s, when she was the leader of a prayer group and the editor of the monthly Charismatic newsletter for her diocese. God wanted her to give up both ministries so she could take better care of her pregnancy, but that this didn’t make her sense, because no one else in the prayer group was willing to lead and no one at the newsletter knew how to organize and edit it. After weeks of refusing to believe that God really did want her to quit, she noticed that the problems created by her not quitting were getting bigger and bigger. At the end she decided to trust God’s advice. She quit.
As a result, the free time gave her evolved into writing articles for Christian magazines. Just as she’d expected, the prayer group fell apart, but something new and better grew up in its place. And God sent a new editor to the newsletter who did a better job than she did.
In this regards we must trust Jesus as we accept the changes He makes in our Christian lives. This trust in Him always rewards us with new friends, new apostolate and new blessings that are hundred times better than what we have before that we have given up. He replaces it with a hundred times better, for He is more generous than you and I.