Then Jesus told his disciples, “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 will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Who in his right mind would want to deny himself, take up a cross, and lose his life? Yet this is precisely what the followers of Jesus are asked to do. The disciples must forget themselves and their self-interest, while centering their lives on Jesus. One could hardly think of more graphic language to express what Jesus expects of the disciple: unlimited availability to follow him, whatever the cost.
Echoing the words of Jesus, Ignatius hounded Francis Xavier time and again asking: What does it profit you to gain the whole world while losing your soul in the process?
To what extent do I lose myself in the service of others—50%? 75%? 100%? Do I embrace life’s joys as well as its sorrows, success as well as failure? Have I truly let go of my self-interest, to live only for Christ?
—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. is Vice-President for Mission and Identity and superior of the Jesuit community at Walsh Jesuit High School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.
Lord, sometimes I hesitate to take on your work; I’d rather be content doing my own thing. You constantly challenge me to keep my eyes focused on you, working for your Kingdom, even when what you ask is so contrary to the world’s values. Help me to remain centered on you in the service of others, embracing all that you send me.
—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J.