Friday, August 7, 2015
“You can sacrifice and not love. But you cannot love and not sacrifice.”
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” ― St Francis of Assisi: (1181 – 1226: Roman Catholic friar)
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.”
Today, the Gospel clearly confronts us with the world... It is absolutely radical in its approach, and it does not admit any half measures: «If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me» (Mt 16:24). In many instances, when we are facing the suffering generated by us or by others, we may hear some people say, “ Keep on gathering sacrifices in very much the same way as those trading stamps we used to collect, with the hope of showing them at Heaven's audit department when our day to present our statements of accounts arrives.”
But our suffering per se would be of little value if we think like that. Christ was no stoic: He was thirsty, He was hungry, He was tired, He did not like to be forsaken. He let others help him... Where He could, He soothed pain, whether physical or moral. So, what is happening, then?
Simple. Before loading up with our “cross”, the first thing we must do is to follow Christ. It is not a matter of first suffering 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 may lead us 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, following the model of man the Father reveals us in Christ. St. Augustine sentenced: «When one loves, one does not suffer; but if one does suffer, the very suffering is loved».
In the ensuing events of our life, we should not seek a divine origin to explain our sacrifices and shortcomings: «Why is God sending this to me?», but we rather have to find a “divine usage” for them: «How can I transform this into an act of faith and love?». It is from this evaluation how we are to follow Christ and how —certainly— we may deserve the Father’s merciful glance. The same glance, which the Father looked at his Son on the Cross with.
Posted by Joe Reciniello at 6:11 AM