13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” When Jesus says paradoxical things like this, we can still trust him. Even when he makes claims that, at first glance, seem impossible, we know that he’s not talking gibberish. Why? Because Jesus lived the ultimate paradox: he brought life out of death. His resurrection proves for us that things are not always as they appear. The Crucifixion, which looked like the end of Jesus’ influence, was actually a tremendous new beginning.
So when Jesus promises that we will find life through a kind of death, we shouldn’t question his claim. Of course in today’s Gospel, Jesus isn’t necessarily talking about physical death, although the “red” martyrs who suffer for him do in fact find their reward in eternal life. “White” martyrdom, on the other hand, is a kind of death to self that doesn’t involve bloodshed. It means putting love and generous service ahead of our own self-gratification. It means doing these things for the sake of Christ. When he tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, this is what he’s talking about.
So, how can we be white martyrs today? How can we sacrifice our desire for perfect comfort, or entertainment on demand, or status or pleasure or sleep or whatever else for the sake of serving another person? In our families, in our schools and workplaces, in our parishes, in our neighborhoods and our communities, there are myriad opportunities to “lose our lives” for the sake of Christ. But don’t forget, in dying to ourselves, we will find our lives in a new way! The fulfillment Christ offers us in return, both now and in eternity, will be far better than anything we try to cling to on our own.
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