Homily for August 5, Friday of the XVIII week in Ordinary Time
At first glance, it could seem that Jesus is asking an awful lot of us in today’s Gospel reading. He says that the condition for salvation is to lose our life for His sake; that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him if we wish to be His disciples.
Certainly, that is not easy. We all have the natural survival instinct to do just the opposite – to protect ourselves, to avoid pain and suffering, and to seek to preserve our lives and security as much as possible. Our immediate reaction to Our Lord’s demands is often hesitation, if not a temptation to reject them. But Jesus then reminds us of two very important truths.
First, He is not asking us to give Him anything that is not already His. As the first reading reminds us, God has given us everything. He created us and did wonders to reveal Himself to us and to redeem us. Our life is not our own; we owe our very existence to God’s on-going, all-embracing love, and will be asked to present our life back to Him when we die. There is nothing we can give in exchange for our life. If we won’t give our life to God, He Who is its source, we end up losing everything good about our life in hell.
And this brings us to the other point that Jesus makes. He reminds us that the fulfillment of our life is not in this world, but in the next. It does us no good to gain all the pleasures and goods of this life, if by doing so we reject God’s plan and condemn ourselves for all eternity. On the contrary, if we give ourselves completely to God in this life, with generosity and self-sacrificing love, then we will discover whom we are really called to be. We will be truly fulfilled and have peace of heart in this life, and will enjoy God’s presence and the fullness of life for all eternity.
May God help us today to remember all the good things God has given us, and to willingly give Him whatever He asks of us, knowing that our eternal heavenly reward will be greater than all the riches and pleasures that this passing world can offer.