“Whoever loses their life for my sake will save it;” with these words Jesus calls us to be intentional about the faith that we profess and about being his followers. This is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian life; how can we lose our life and yet still save it?
When I think of losing something it is usually due to some neglect on my own part, me maybe not being fully present in that moment or simply forgetting where I put something. However Jesus speaks of this “losing our life” as something done quite intentionally. So this is not something we can merely do by accident.
Why would we want to lose our life?
Because Christ has promised us much more than what the world has to offer. That sounds pretty good to me!
So how do we lose our life then?
Jesus Christ sums it up in the sentence previous; “If anyone wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” That doesn’t sound so nice though.It it is a choice we must make, a daily decision to follow in Christ’s steps, to follow his way. As St.Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live… I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
And it begins when we choose Christ over ourselves. But how do we get to this point of having a faith like what St.Paul speaks of.
This may seem like a complicated task or maybe even unattainable, so I want to break it down into practical steps, as I like to do for myself.
Denying ourselves means making small daily sacrifices. As a parent this is kind of built in, as we are constantly making sacrifices for our children, but what may seem like small and insignificant actions, like going without dessert(or something you really enjoy eating) and offering a prayer for someone you know who is struggling with an addiction, or doing a task that you really don’t want to do or don’t enjoy doing as a prayer for someone who is sick or dying to ease their pain. These little things, when united in prayer and done intentionally with love, mean a lot and help us to unite ourselves with Christ and his body.
Taking up our cross means opening ourselves to God’s grace. He can give us the strength to face the challenges in our lives through the sacraments; Reconciliation or Confession, and the Eucharist, through conversation with him in prayer. Making these three simple things a priority in our lives helps us to embrace God’s will for us and helps us to build good virtues.
For example, imagine a pianist who has taken up his daily cross, learning scales and basic music. Soon enough, he is able to play complex pieces of music. But consider a student who has refused daily practice. Now, looking at the notes of even one of a simple piece and trying to play it seems impossible—and it likely is. The daily cross of practice helps avoid the nearly impossible crosses that would inevitably come without it. –Msgr. Charles Pope
Following Christ means moving outward, serving Him in others. This can be as simple as an intentional smile or a wave, a conversation or making a meal. It is going out of our way to bring the Christ in us, “who has first loved and given himself for us”, to another.
In a world where traditional Christian values are no longer the ‘norm’; where we are faced with the killing of vulnerable persons and a loss of respect for life, and where mediocrity and relativism are ever present, among many other things, we must be intentional about losing our lives for Christ! It is too easy to fall in to our own personal preferences or to settle with the ways of the world, to find the middle road. But in order to lose your life He must become everything to you!
What will your choice be for today? It is only in losing your life that you will truly find it! It is a daily choice!
Scriptures for today: