I’ve been thinking on and off about last Sunday’s Gospel reading, where a lot of Jesus’ followers left him after hearing some teachings they found difficult. When Jesus asked his closest friends if they would be leaving too, Peter said there was nowhere for them to go, that Jesus had the words of everlasting life.
Note that Peter did NOT say, “We don’t WANT to leave.” Imagine if what Peter meant by his response was that he was experiencing a strong urge to “head for the hills,” just like the others who left. Yet, despite the hardships that came with the call to discipleship, he knew in his “gut” that staying was what he “had” to do, even if it was not what he “wanted” to do.
Too often, I think, our consumer culture tells us that we should do whatever we want to do from moment to moment. The result? A fair amount of narcissism and self-seeking, to put it mildly from my perspective. It has been increasingly difficult for people to make good on lifelong commitments, whether this is to a spouse/life partner, religious life, etc. All such commitments carry with them hardships to the individuals involved, and it is difficult sometimes to make the decision to invest oneself in the effort to work through the hardships to come to a deeper and more mature appreciation of the commitment, especially if there is not similar resolve from the spouse/partner/community. With the headwinds of our culture buffeting us from all sides, telling us if something is not going to our satisfaction, we can throw it away and get a new one, it is no wonder that people these days find it difficult to make and be faithful to lifelong commitments.
I pray that as I continue to live my own commitment, I will continue to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus through the hardships yet to come. May it be so for you, as well.