Jesus says in the Gospel that whoever loses his or her life for Jesus’ sake will save it. He then juxtaposes it with a question: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself” (Luke 9:25). It was this particular phrasing that caught my imagination and led me to ask a series of follow-up questions: what motivates me? What riches do I seek- accolades, money, head seat at the corporate table? I don’t think these are inherently bad. Our aspirations, when directed towards God, propel us to accomplish his will and these may very well be the means. Yet, they do have the power of leading us astray from that purpose. Suddenly those aspirations become the end rather than the means and we are in danger of forfeiting ourselves to have it all.
It’s as though a theme has been following us since Sunday. As we began the week Jesus urges us to lean on Divine Providence and not be anxious about ancillary things. And then, meeting a rich man seeking to inherit eternal life, Jesus calls us to obedience and to shed our “riches” and follow him; place our trust in His divine providence. And now here again, Jesus instructs us on the best way to follow him: deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. The choice is ours.
“There are set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch out your hand. Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him” (Sirach 15:17). Choose life!