Today’s Liturgy: Shrove Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.
Sirach 35:1-12 – Psalm 50 – Mark 10:28-31
“The Lord is one who always repays, and he will give back to you sevenfold. But offer no bribes, these he does not accept!” (Sirach 35:30)
The quote above holds a lot of wisdom for us in that it lays it square on the line: “Yes! God gives in abundance for those who desire to follow Him. But we have to work hard at making our following of Jesus be free of any kind of coercion or bribe. But most of us who live in a “dog-eat-dog” kind of world have to struggle with making our love of God be pure and not tainted with conditions.
Peter’s response to Jesus in today’s Holy Gospel is common to all of us: “What about us? We’ve left all to follow you. What’s in it for us?
The answer might not be totally the one we wanted: “… you will receive a hundred times more… in this present age … along with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” (Mark 10:30)
The “hundred fold” comes but not as we expected – “But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
This is not an easy task no matter which way you try to cut it. But don’t worry about trying to be a philanthropist … just give way to the person who cuts you off at the intersection. Or, let somebody go ahead of you in the buffet line even though you can see that there’s only one of those “goody-goody things” left.
But don’t do that thinking, “I’ll let them go first” on the basis that they might bring out something much better! That’s what Sirach says is “bribing God.” And that’s where “Gospel Love” – the unconditional type – is needed. And the only way to achieve that kind of love is to realize that God loved you first. Warts and all! Once we realize that, we’re on the way. And all of a sudden, we’re seeing the blessings of God in abundance. But you can’t turn that around or it just won’t work. Amen!