Scripture: Lectionary 411. Aug.9. Deuteronomy 4:32-40. Psalm 77:12-13, 14-15, 16.21. Matthew 16:24-28:
Pope Francis speaks clearly to us. He tells us to have the courage to take up the cross of Jesus and walk with him as his disciples. The Gospel for today and its parallels in Mark, Luke, and John insist on this commitment to carry the cross with Jesus in our lives. Matthew, like Francis, is among the first of the evangelists to make it clear. It is presented as a paradox, that is, something that goes contrary to our ordinary way of thinking. Jesus gives us this paradox: “For those who want to save their lives will lose it, and those who lose their lives for my sake will find it.” Jesus presents us with this challenge which is counter-cultural in all cultures. If we hold to something too tightly, we will risk losing it.
Mark’s Gospel is called the Gospel of the Cross and it stresses what Matthew has borrowed from him, thus showing us the cost of discipleship. To be a committed and faithful disciple of Jesus is a very hard and difficult task which we are called to do each day of our lives. To accept the call we need to take it into our heart and our mind, will, and soul as Deuteronomy tells us to do with the covenant God made with Moses. The living out of the commandments with a spirit of joy and love is not easy. This is the lesson of Deuteronomy and the focus is on God alone as we see in chapter 4: 35.
The finding of one’s life is equivalent to our belief in the eternal life promised by God and by Jesus after his resurrection. In having this strong desire to do what Jesus asks of us we are making real the kingdom of God now. Jesus has told us that the kingdom of God is in our midst.
For further meditation on this passage of Matthew, we do well to look at the following parallels to it: Mark 8:34-9:1; Luke 9:23-27; and John 12:25.
“Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.