Friday, August 8, 2014

“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy”

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” ― St. Francis of Assisi

Gospel Text: (MT 16:24-28)
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

Before we take on the load of the cross, the first thing we must do is to follow Christ. It is not a matter of first sacrificing and then following Christ... Christ must be followed from our Love, and from there we can then understand the sacrifice, the personal negation: «For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life for my sake will find it» (Mt 16:25).

Love and mercy lead to sacrifice.

Any true love engenders, one way or other, some sort of sacrifice, but not all sacrifice engenders love. God is not sacrifice; God is love, and only from that perspective does pain, fatigue and the cross in our existence have any meaning.

I think what Jesus is asking us to do is disown our self-centered ideas which lead us into thinking that we are all that matter, that our own needs and hopes are more important than anyone else’s. Jesus is telling us to deny our own centrality and self-aggrandizing ways in order to focus on loving God with all our heart and our neighbor as our self. Then we will begin to think as God does. When we stop seeing our self as the ultimate good or the center of the universe, then we lose interest in searching endlessly for wealth, prestige, and influence and power over others.

“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt 16:26)

I think this is the core of what Jesus says to us today. I don’t think he means physically dying when he speaks of forfeiting life. Instead, he is reminding us that a self-centered life is only a shadow of the full life that is offered to us when we seek the mind of God.

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