Losing to Gain

Matthew 16: 24-28
Dt 4:32-40/Ps 77:12-16,21

For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:25)

I will never regret the loss
Of the world’s acclaim, nor disdain
To welcome the pains of the cross
If it means my eternal gain.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself; take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life for my sake will find it. What will one gain by winning the whole world, if he destroys his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done. Truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28)

Reflection

Can anything in this temporal life compare to the value of one’s soul? Unless one is an atheist, we all believe that our time in this world is so limited, while life in God’s kingdom is infinite. Losing it therefore for the wealth, fame or pleasures of this world would be life’s ultimate folly. The paradox of the Christian faith, however, is that we have to lose first what the world considers precious, before we can gain what the world disdains. Jesus could not be more explicit when He said, “If you want to follow Me, deny yourself; take up your cross and follow Me.” What does it mean to deny one’s self? Self here means the indulgent ego that only seeks the satisfaction of all its material and carnal desires. The more we give in to its cravings, the less concerned we will be about the problems and needs of others, and the weakened condition of our soul. God wants us to deny all our selfish inclinations in order to keep our focus on our eternal destination.

Our Lord Jesus told the parable of the rich fool in the Gospel of Luke, where a man’s land produced an abundant harvest. Instead of selling the crops for many to avail of the lower prices, he decided to build bigger barns to hoard his produce, and then, “He told himself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

Speaking of storing up, we recall the words of our Lord in Matthew, 6:20-21: “…store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Jesus is telling us that every time we give up something in this life for somebody else, or for the sake of the Gospel, we are gaining something in heaven. Somebody up there is keeping score. But gaining ‘pogi’ points with God should not be the main thing that defines our life as a Christian. Personally, I have come to love and serve Jesus because of gratitude; He sacrificed His own life for the salvation of my soul, which is my most precious possession. The least I can do, in the words of St. John the Baptist, is say: “Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29b-30). Thus, if I have to lose quality time with loved ones, or precious time for hobbies or leisure, if I have to miss opportunities for self-advancement, or for increasing my resources, or even lose sleep in composing these Gospel reflections, if it means winning a single soul for Christ, I’ll never consider it a loss at all!

Thank You, Jesus, for Your love and for Your cross that have saved me from the snares of the world’s false treasures. Thank You, Father God, for Your Holy Spirit, and for Your Word, which has led me to the path of eternal life. Amen.

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