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 people who study marketing would say that Jesus was not a good marketer. Just imagine receiving this pep talk from Jesus… “Ok, if you want to follow me you must deny yourself and take up your cross. You are going to have to lose your life in order to save it. People may persecute you, imprison you or even kill you because of me. But come follow me.”
Most people today would run the other way, and they do. In a world dominated by secularism, materialism and selfishness, these words sound crazy. Why would someone willingly deny himself and take up the cross? That would be painful. And we do not like pain. We want the easy and comfortable life.
We just finished a wonderful seminarian retreat with Fr. Joseph Carola, SJ. We talked a lot about the challenges of surrendering our lives to Christ and trusting His will for us. We know that it is not going to be easy, but this kind of life is worth every moment of sacrifice. Jesus promised that if we give up home, family and country for His sake, we would receive a reward in this life and in the life to come, with persecution.
Anyone who has sacrificed for Jesus Christ has experienced this. The Lord does not abandon us and we can never outdo Him in generosity. I have found that the Lord blessed me more than I can possibly give to others. And the irony is that when I give everything to Jesus, I receive more than I can possibly imagine. I find true fulfillment and peace, and other are blessed in the process.
Are you able to deny yourself?
Do you seek the pleasures of this life that can be so fleeting?
Or do you seek the treasures that last?
Faith, hope and love are what endure, and the greatest of these is love. Love is seeking the good of the other person. It does not seek its own interests. It is laying down your life for others.
How can you love even more today?
Have a blessed day!