Wednesday, August 03, 2005



AUGUST 4, 2005

Moses said to the people: "Ask now of the days of old, before your
time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of
the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it
ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from
the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go
and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by
testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with his strong hand and
outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your
God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? All this you were
allowed to see that you might know the LORD is God and there is no
other. Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you;
on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out
of the fire. For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and
personally led you out of Egypt by his great power, driving out of your
way nations greater and mightier than you, so as to bring you in and to
make their land your heritage, as it is today. This is why you must now
know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD
is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no
other. You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on
you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that
you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving
you forever."

MATTHEW 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."

In today's Gospel, Jesus spells out the demands of discipleship.
Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must "renounce himself and take up
his cross." Jesus continues, "For anyone who wants to save his life
will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his

Those words of Jesus encapsulate the central paradox of Christianity.
To lose one's life-for the sake of Jesus- is to gain it. And to
gain the whole world at the expense of losing one's soul is, to put it
quite simply, nothing. To use another translation, what does it profit
a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul in the process?
This is the question that St. Ignatius Loyola quoted to St. Francis
Xavier at the University of Paris, and it ultimately led to the
conversion of St. Francis from a man of the world to a man of God.

If we reflect on the life of a priest or a nun or any person that gave
his or her life to the service of Our Lord, we find plenty of rewards
... spiritual rewards. Some of these individuals may have made their
commitments very early in their lives or some later in their lives. At
what point in life the commitment was made does not matter; it is the
wholeheartedness of that commitment that matters.

Even today, we can find many role models ... priests, nuns, lay
religious, some people as common as you and me. Their genuine care for
the wellbeing of other people drives them to dedicate their time and
talent to help others and their communities. In fulfilling their tasks,
in a way, they deny their own freedoms, their free time, but in doing
so they welcome Our Lord into their lives and allow Him to freely
direct their ideas and actions.

Perhaps what Our Lord is reminding us today through the Gospel is that
"sacrifice and service for others" need not be negative. Rather, if we
give our time and ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord's will, to serve
others, we can find fulfillment, happiness and peace in our lives.

Are we ready to rise to God's challenge?

"Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of
the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior. Make my faith strong
like Peter's and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they
may come to know you personally as Lord and Savior and grow in the
knowledge of your love".

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