Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
As we close our reflections on the Conversion of St. Paul, we recognize that Paul left a career, a reputation, and probably considerable wealth behind when he followed Jesus. In Matthew 19:27-30 Peter asks Jesus what will happen to the disciples. They are leaving everything to follow him. Jesus promises that his disciples will have their reward.
I have heard this passage used for sermons that speak of this as a temporal reward. Verse 29 is not clear about whether we expect a "hundredfold" return in our mortal life, or if it is deferred to eternity. And it is also patently unclear how that return would be quantified. It is clearly not the case that the disciples became more wealthy or comfortable than they were before following Jesus.
What kind of a reward does the Christian value? There are temporal rewards to a life in Christ, and they are desirable. However, they are not always easily measured. A life of joy. A hope that doesn't perish, rather than a hope only in the things of this world. A life as someone who has been forgiven all manner of evils by the perfect God, who then teaches us to forgive others who sin against us in lesser ways than we sin against God. The knowledge that in Christ we have things in common with people who are otherwise very different from us. A family that goes far beyond our physical relatives. A framework on which to hang our lives. These are precious rewards indeed.
What did Paul leave behind? A lot. What did he gain? Abundance beyond measure. The same is true for us. Even as we have left some things behind, we are filled with a blessedness of God which can't be rightly comprehended. And in the future, there's even more to come. This is the good news of Jesus.
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