The Eternal Year
Gospel Reflection for May 30th: Mark 10:28-31
Today is May thirtieth, in the two thousand and twenty-third year, anno domini, the year of the Lord.
I, for one, hardly think twice about the date, but today’s Gospel brings me to reflect on the meaning of ‘the year of the Lord.’ It is primarily meant to be understood as the year in which Jesus became incarnate and from which we count our common, western, accrued sense of time. Yet I can’t help but think its implication - we are still living in a time changed by this cosmic event. We are still in the year of the Lord: that eternal year that marks a change forever in our sense of time.
Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age Mark 10:29-30
This passage, if taken out of context, could look as though Jesus is claiming that in giving up everything to follow him, his disciples can expect every fullness in their lifetime. Instead, he is providing a rebuttal to the common Jewish belief that prosperity is evidence of God’s favour. He is telling Peter, ‘You have given up everything, but you are not alone. What you have lost, you will gain in others who are like you.’ Jesus’ phrase ‘a hundred times more’ is very reminiscent of his parable of the sower:
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. Mark 4:8 (see also Matthew 13:1-9; Luke 8:4-8)
In a sense, Jesus is reminding Peter that he (and the other disciples) are like that seed that has fallen on rich soil. In his own life, in the year of our Lord, he will create a great yield of other disciples, who may come with prosperity (or not). But one marked difference between the idea of prosperity as God’s favour and Jesus’ understanding of God’s favour is this: it will not be without persecution.
houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. Mark 10:30
In giving up everything to follow Jesus, they became that seed. A seed that has been planted in the soil of eternity now. There is work to be done here on earth and this work now has a lasting effect, more far-reaching than just their own earthly life.
Indeed, we are the product of their work. Through their work in giving up everything to follow Jesus, we have been given the opportunity to be claimed by God and planted in the soil of eternal life. Our actions here on earth have a direct effect in the eternal timeline, anno domini, both for us and for others.