The children of Israel saw and experienced amazing and wondrous things. God had revealed himself to them and even spoken to them. In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 4, Moses tells the people what God requires of them: to keep his statutes and commandments. In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 16, we hear a familiar saying of Jesus.
“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?” What profit, indeed? We tend to have such a narrow view of life. Though this has always been the case, part of the human condition, I think it has become even more prevalent of late. As realtivism continues to creep into our consciences, we tend to look more and more to the here and now. To paraphrase an old song, (here I go dating myself again), “I only have eyes for ME.” We have lost sight of eternity.
So, what about this notion of losing your life to gain it? Paradoxical? You bet! Counter-cultural? To an extreme! But that’s what Jesus was all about. His words flew in the face of conventional wisdom. His actions showed us another way. The way of love. The way of selflessness. We have seen starkly how the profit motive (read: greed and selfishness) has done a number on our economy. Imagine what it will do to our souls.
Father, you know that far too often we live for self. Help us to see the greater picture, to offer ourselves up for your purpose. Amen.