“Peter began to say to Jesus, ‘We have given up everything and followed you.’” The disciple’s words in today’s gospel (Mark 10,18-21) follow the story we read yesterday about the rich young man who turns away from following Jesus because he has many possessions. Jesus comments afterwards how difficult it will be for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
To be a disciple, Mark’s gospel teaches, is to be concerned with your neighbor and the society in which you live. In the society in which Jesus lived, the gap between the rich and the poor was great. The inequalities were enormous. His disciples were not to aim at getting rich, he taught, but rather they should work for a just world where all can share in its riches.
The picture of the Christian community after Pentecost having all things in common and sharing everything is a reminder of his teaching.
The rich young man turns away from that challenge. Peter, representing the disciples, accepts it, and as Jesus promises, he and those who do seek a just world will receive rewards in this world and in the next.
Yet it will bring “persecutions” too, Jesus says. There are costs to discipleship in all its forms. If you are going to work for social justice, you may not be popular or admired. Your voice often wont be heard. Sometimes, as we see in the story of Bishop Oscar Romero, it can lead to your death.
Working for justice always means entering into the mystery of the cross.