What Do I Gain?

August 11, 2017 – Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Clare of Assisi, Virgin

Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (mpoletunow@malvernretreat.com)

Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (16:24-28)

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.”

Reflect: What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? As usual, Jesus wants to grab our attention. In today’s gospel, he not only speaks about the cross and self-denial, but he stresses that his message and his invitation is one for eternal life; not a short-sighted, merely earthly perspective. It is easy to be focused on earthly success and accomplishments – as the world sees it. But, Jesus wants us to look beyond and consider that his message is one for eternity. If we are fortunate, perhaps we’ll walk this earth for 80 or 90 years; maybe more. Regardless, if we amass great wealth and significant earthly honors, that means nothing when we pass from this world to the next. Jesus’ challenge is for us to get our life in order now so that we can inherit everlasting life. Our cross may not be equivalent to the one that Jesus bore. We may not be called to be martyrs for our faith; yet, the manner in which we accept our ordinary daily crosses, and the way in which we work to grow in our relationship with Jesus, and choose to extend his love and mercy to others will make a difference in whether we inherit the Kingdom of God or not. Our eternal prosperity has everything to do with how we recognize the One True God, how we keep his commandments, and how we choose to direct our time, energy and resources for the sake of building up God’s Kingdom in this world now.

Questions: How might Jesus be inviting me to reassess my life for the sake of his Kingdom and my inheritance of everlasting life? In what ways might I be too focused on accomplishments in this world and overlook Jesus’ call to take up my cross? Might Jesus be asking me to embrace humility and service to know him better and to follow his example?

Pray: Loving God, you are the only true God; there is none other. Help me to toss away the false gods in my life that distract me from you and your message. Give me the grace to desire you, to serve others and to seek your Kingdom with all my strength. I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Saint Clare of Assisi: Pray for us!

As a beautiful and rich eighteen year old, Clare renounced everything to follow Christ in the manner of Francis of Assisi. With him she co-founded the Poor Clares, establish the first house at San Damiano in Assisi, Italy. The women lived an austere life. They went barefoot, wore rough tunics, and begged for food.  In 1234, Clare famously displayed the Blessed Sacrament on the convent wall as Frederick II’s army attacked. Prostrating herself, she prayed, “Good Lord, I beg you: defend those I cannot protect.” When Clare raised the ciborium, the soldiers scattered and did not attack. Clare died in 1253 and was canonized only two years later.

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