The Christian life is a life of complete surrender, a total commitment and devotion to God. It is the way of the cross with Jesus.
Jesus told us in today’s Gospel; "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”
What can we give in exchange for our lives? What profit it is to us, when we enjoy all the good things and material things of this world, and we miss heaven? God is the source and giver of life. He is our suffering Messiah. We enjoy with him and we suffer with him. The book of Ecclesiastes 1:2 tells us that, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” The vanity of this world should not make us to miss heaven. We must stay awake and take up our cross and follow Jesus. There is nothing one can actually give in exchange for his/her life, than to surrender completely to God. Remember the words of Jesus; “Each will be repaid according to his/her conduct." In other words, whatever we do here on earth we definitely await the reward. It’s important we recognize our Creator and follow in his ways.
St. Paul tells us in the second reading; “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” We must therefore renew our mind and heart, think positive and live a good Christian life pleasing to God.
Let’s make our ways better and conform ourselves to the things of God and think heavenly, then seek God’s will. We must not be conformed too much to the world of pleasure, of wealth, of power, of honor, of prestige, of influence. We must be transformed by the renewal of our mind and focus more on the things of God.
Complete surrender and commitment comes when we accept lovingly our own cross, together with that of Jesus and follow him. Jesus offers us the grace, and invites us to rely on him. Sometimes, our cross may be challenges, difficulties, worries, fears of the unknown, may be in your marriage or in a relationship that you are no longer happy in, in your family, in your work place. Sometimes your cross may be, loving somebody who doesn’t even love you back, and you keep on giving and giving, and they keep on taking and taking. Sometimes, your cross may be disappointments, setbacks and even losses. But Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel 16:33; “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Jesus takes our pains and challenges with his, and nailed them on the Cross. He reminds us again in John’s Gospel 19:30; “It is finished…” This means they are all gone. What a great hope and promise for us as Christians and believers.
One of the best principles I have learned over the years is that, you don’t put a question mark where God has already put a period. The pain and suffering we go through in life may be for a purpose and a sign that a change is taking place. When you are in a difficult situation, don’t focus on the pain; focus more on the fact that a new level and a new beginning is coming. The scripture encourages us that, Jesus endured the pain of the cross, looking forward to the joy that was set before him. Your pain can be turn into gain. Don’t go through it, grow through it and come out strong in your faith.
Good is good…all the time.
God bless you.
Fr. Daniel E. Ogbeifun