Jesus said to his disciples: “…If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
So which is it? Life or Death? I’m confused. In today’s first reading, Moses tells the people that they should choose life (cf. Dt 30: 15-20). In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells the people that they should choose death. Well then, which one is it?
We should know by now the paradox of the Gospel: Jesus Christ.
If Christ is a paradox, then life is one as well, for the giver of life is the author of life.
We all have the very strong instinct inside of us to survive; to do whatever it takes to survive, and yet we don’t ridicule those who have laid down their lives for others. In fact, we mourn their loss.
For those of faith, death is gain, not loss. For those of faith, death is not the worst thing that can happen; dying on the wrong side is the worst thing that can happen.
As a priest I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot and learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot about people, especially at funerals. I’ve learned that being right all the time is not as important as being loving all the time. I’ve seen how people react to loss. I’ve heard many eulogies. I’ve learned that when the deceased loved “little”, the eulogies were filled with sorrow, unanswered questions; and remarkably, wise-cracks and jokes that were almost belittling the deceased person – of course, not in a distasteful manner, but in a very subtle and fine-tuned manner. But I’ve learned that when the deceased loved a lot, their eulogies were filled with joy, gratitude and plenty of stories and examples of how the deceased impacted their life and how the joke was on them!
What is the best way to live? To die to oneself. What does it mean to die to oneself? To love unconditionally. How does one love unconditionally? Humbly. Honestly. By imitating the love of Jesus Christ; that is, by placing worldly treasures (such as pride, vanity and sensuality) below love of God, love of Church and love of neighbor.
Like Moses, like the Apostles, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his entire life to serving the People of God. While as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger offered his resignation three times to John Paul II! Three times he was denied. If John Paul II had accepted his resignation, then that would most likely have been the end of Ratzinger’s story. But John Paul II wanted him to continue to serve. And he did when he was elected Pope.
A lot of people today are speculating why he is resigning. Conspiracy theories abound. But I truly believe that the only reason why he is resigning at the end of this month is for a very simple reason: because he finally can. He prayed about it and finally got permission.
Resolution: I will make myself available to another, regardless of what my plans were today. My plan will be their plan; my life will be a part of their life; my heart and mind will be available to help lift up their heart and mind. Two hearts are better than one. Two heads together will solve the problem. By my words and my actions, I will make it clear to them that they are not alone.