Sirach 35:1-12; Psalm 50:5-8, 14, 23;
Saint Philip Neri, Priest
The last will be first. (Mark 10:31)
A bit of context can help us here. Jesus had just said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Such an unsettling statement led Peter to worry: If the rich, who are generally thought to be the most successful, the most intelligent, and the hardest working, will find it hard, what chance do I have? I’m just a poor fisherman!
Jesus, upon hearing the frustration in Peter’s voice, helped clear up his worry. It is precisely those who are “last,” those who don’t appear to have it all together, who have the best hope of entering the kingdom of God. It’s the last, the ones who appear lowly, who are willing to surrender to Jesus.
By contrast, those who are content, those who find their primary satisfaction in the world and its accomplishments, won’t feel the need for Jesus. Like the rich young man who had just come to Jesus, they will walk away “sad” and unsatisfied (Mark 10:22).
This reading shows us that Jesus knows our hearts. He knows our intentions, even if our actions don’t always match up. He sees all the little sacrifices that we make for him. Every time you refrain from harsh or angry words, he sees it. Every time you turn aside from temptation, he rejoices. Every time you go out of your way, even a little, to help someone else, he pours out blessings.
So take heart! Even if you think you are in the “last” category—passed over, never noticed, not especially heroic, forgotten about—Jesus has you in “first” place. He loves you. He is on your side. He wants nothing more than to welcome you into his kingdom. It’s the hidden acts of faith and trust that draw his heart. It’s the small decisions to stay close to him that move him. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, you can always turn to him as Peter did and ask, “Do you not see?” He will always respond by encouraging you, just as he did for Peter.
“Jesus, thank you for giving me the grace to love and serve you. Help me to trust that you have a place set aside for me in your kingdom.”~WAU