Give It All or... Lose It All
Friday, February 18, 2022
Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
by Fr. David M. Knight
Mark 8:34 to 9:1. Year II: James 2:14-26; Psalm 112:1-6.
Jesus spent the first half of Mark’s Gospel trying to keep us from accepting him as a false Messiah. He spends the second half showing us what we are up against if we accept him as the true one.
The gloves are off. We are not in “Christianity 101” anymore, getting what Paul calls “baby food” (1Corinthians 3:1-2). Now Jesus is teaching us as people who want to accept him as the Messiah he really is and to hear the whole Good News, even when it sounds like bad news. His last words to Peter in yesterday’s reading were: “You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Now he shows us how to think like God.
His first challenge and ultimatum to those who would accept him as Messiah contains all the rest:
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
That pretty much says it all. It is a very simple choice: lose all and live, or cling to what you’ve got and lose life itself. It’s simple arithmetic: “How much do you make if you gain the whole world but lose your life by ruining your soul?” We may find it hard to accept the truth of this, but we can’t deny the logic.
And, really, it is nothing new. From the beginning God’s “first and greatest Commandment” was: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (see Mark 12:29-31; Deuteronomy 6:4).
Again, it is simple arithmetic to conclude that all minus anything is not all. To love God authentically is to love him without dividing our love between him and anything or anyone else. As All. Our All. Our total Good. As All we desire.
The second Commandment is, “You shall love others as yourself.” Jesus teaches that the only real way to love ourselves is to surrender ourselves totally to God. To love others as ourselves we surrender them also to God. dedicating ourselves totally to their good. There is no greater love (John 15:13).
Ultimately, the Good News is just love.
Initiative: Do the numbers. Add up what you get and lose by giving all to God.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry