Readings: Hebrews 1:1-6; Mark 1:14-20
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him, they left their nets and followed him–as simple as that. The stark way Mark writes the scene makes their reaction seem like a reflex. I wonder whether they realized what they were doing.
I say that because ten chapters later, after the rich young man doesn’t follow Jesus, Peter blurts out, we have given up everything and followed you. Is he wondering whether forsaking the back-breaking business of hauling in nets, their smelly product, the fluctuating market and constant haggling are any equivalent to forsaking riches? Did they really lose anything desirable? But Peter says that at a point in the story when being associated with Jesus, no matter how charismatic, wonder-filled or even divine he may be, is becoming costly. Peter and Andrew are no longer on familiar territory.
It may no longer be exhilarating to follow Jesus but it means so much more because it has cost them so much, this path they’re following; it all goes much deeper than they could have imagined. And perhaps Peter intuits he couldn’t turn back if he wanted to. Even four chapters later when he denies knowing Jesus, he can’t turn back but, repenting and weeping, he has to stay on that path.
I suspect we’ve all been in the monastic life–or on the disciple’s path–long enough to recognize our own story in all this. What our youthful narcissism or romanticism had seen as a praiseworthy achievement still ahead, we one day recognize, in retrospect, to be so mundane and simple, so deep and already so present. And we no longer want anything else. What a blessed moment that is!