Sir 35:1-12; Ps 50:5-8,14,23; Mk10:28-31: To praise and to fulfill our vows are the sacrifice, which glorifies God. We offer this pleasing worship every day we pick up our cross and follow Christ. Not only here at mass but always and everywhere. The wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirach instructs us to give to the Most High as he has given to us, generously, just as generously as he has given to us. God will not be outdone in generosity; all we can do is follow his example. The Most High has revealed his true nature in the total self-giving of his Son upon the cross. Like Peter can we say: “we have given up everything to follow you.” It is the bright fire of the Spirit of Pentecost that reveals how meager is our sacrifice.
In the mystery of the Trinity the Son, the Just One, is the only one who has fully received the self-gift of the Father, and from this eternal mutual self-giving, the Holy Spirit proceeds. Wisdom again enlightens our journey of faith. Keeping the law of the LORD is a great oblation and a peace offering. We do not come to the Eucharist with empty hands if we fulfill his precepts. Then our offering of the Mass becomes a sweet odor before the Most High. The eternal offering and receiving that takes place in the mystery of the Trinity is a model for our sacrifice of praise. We give to God what he has already given to us. Everything! “For the LORD is one who always repays and he will give back to you sevenfold.” Unless we first receive, we have nothing to offer. As the song reminds us, “All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above—so thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love.”
This mystery of total self-giving we celebrate at every Mass. Yet, it is a mystery that we reveal each day of our lives. Those around us each day get a glimpse of the mystery of God because of the mystery of our generous self-giving. As we hear in today’s gospel, “no one who has given up…will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” The Lord Jesus is not pampering Peter or his brothers; nor is he pampering us today. To follow Jesus is a life of sacrifice with abundant rewards and persecutions too. What persecutions do we endure? We who respect human life from its beginning to its natural end—we are ridiculed for being “out of touch with the rights of women.” We who honor the body both our own and others—we are ridiculed for being “too puritanical, stiff and unloving.” We who love the Lord more than anyone or anything—we are ridiculed for not “living in the real world.” Our ancestors were constantly in danger of not only ridicule; they had their very lives threatened for being disciples of Jesus Christ. We can expect nothing less. They found a new family, new homes, and new security in the fellowship of believers, but that did not eliminate the reality of persecutions. We may well be last among the rich and powerful, the popular and prosperous, but we are first in the eyes of the LORD who searches the heart. Each time we celebrate these mysteries here and in the sacrifice of taking up our cross, we are first. Like the Just One who first received and continues to receive the full self-gift of the Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we are first.