Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B
Fr. Steven Roth

Would you ever leave Him? Would you ever stop following Jesus? Just think how different our lives would be! Just think we could live as we want. Money, well money is money. We can earn as much as we want not taking into consideration how fairly we earn a living or the impact our job might have on family. Our lives would be different because we would no longer have to exert energy to forgive others. We could hold grudges and dislike them as much as we want. And helping those less fortunate than ourselves would no longer be a concern. Let them fend for themselves. There would be no more guilt or frustration in trying to live according to the gospel. Instead we could do as we feel. You have to admit, it sounds appealing.

I’m sure life apart from Jesus was appealing to Peter as well. So often we think of Peter as some peasant fisherman with a row-boat and fishing pole. Peter, with three others, owned a fishing business. They had boats, equipment etc. We also know that Peter had this business in a town called Capernaum on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. A major road ran right through this town that became a trade route. So we can be sure that Peter saw and encountered many people who lived very different lives. These various lifestyles, we could imagine, must have been very appealing and even enticing.

And so when Jesus says to Peter, are you going to leave too? Peter’s reply in saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of everlasting life” is essentially saying “Jesus, I know the other ways people live their lives. Yet it is Your way, as hard at times as it might be, which is the way I want to live.” Brothers and sisters, we too echo those same words. Week after week we continue following Jesus for the same reason.

However, in this realization, let’s not forget that like Peter, we too will make mistakes as followers, despite our commitment to follow Him. Like Peter, we will deny Jesus in word and deed. Like Peter, we too will get mixed up, say dumb things and need to be brought back on track. But brothers and sisters, it is far better for us to be an imperfect follower of Jesus than to not follow Him at all.

While it might be appealing to not follow Jesus, we know it would not make us happy. Just think, do we admire or like the people who hate, hold grudges, are self-centered or self-absorbed? Do we aspire to be like people who are cheap or stingy? Of course we don’t. They are not happy or content because they are following an unattainable goal. How much is enough? What job is prestigious enough? What car or house will ever be good enough if that is what we direct our lives according to?

Today, Jesus asks you and me the same question He asked Peter. “Will you leave Me too?” Indeed our lives would be so different not following Him, but is that really what we want?

St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church