Half empty, or half full ?


Peter began to say to Jesus,
“We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “… .

When Pete says that they had given up everything, what precisely to people imagine they gave up? Do folks imagine they gave up anything or everything of value? Do people imagine they gave up everything enjoyable? Do people imagine them as ragged paupers following their leader on an agonizing trek, deprived of all of the riches and comforts that the rest of the world freely enjoyed? Is that the only way to look at their sacrifice?

Can someone view Pete discarding life’s burdensome excesses in order to make room for that which is truly valuable? Could they have cast off their sins, difficult as that often is? Might they have learned to discard prejudice? Might they have given up their stubbornness, or set aside their old ways to make room for something new. Did they have to give it up grudgingly, or might they have done so with an enthusiastic vigor? I am not suggesting what their mindset was, but I am merely describing two ways of parting with many things. Two ways of looking at “everything”; especially when those things are not defined and catalogued. One is with misery, the other joy.

They were following Jesus Christ after all. They did not follow Him for death and suffering, but for a joyous life. The gospel is a book of good news, not the book of dread and gloom and doom. This is a glass half empty or half full type of issue. I suspect those who followed Christ did so gladly, they gladly left much behind precisely because so much they possessed brought them harm. At the beginning of their journey I ask; could their possessions be what brought them harm. Instead of possessing “things”, could those “things” possess them?

Jesus cured many of the demons that possessed them.

1 Pt 1:10-16

Mk 10:28-31

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

One thought on “Half empty, or half full ?

  1. Thank you for this post. This is one of those passages, about giving up everything, that confuses me. I think I have been so very literal with this and other texts that I obscures the real meaning. I suppose I did sometimes wonder if Jesus was asking us to literally leave every comfort behind, to be hungry and cold and without decent clothing. To give up everything that was enjoyable.

    Sometimes I have wondered if the only people who could be saved might be priests, monks and nuns, who do literally give up their lives and possessions (although a fair number of priests still manage to live in relative comfort). I have asked myself if Jesus wants me to sell my house, literally, and give all of the money away and live in deprivation on the streets with my children. Really, Lord, is that what you require?
    So, thank you, Northern Hermit, for this insight, and your simple, sensible sentences that make so much meaning clear: “They did not follow Him for death and suffering, but for a joyous life. The gospel is a book of good news, not the book of dread and gloom and doom.”


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