Thursday, August 06, 2009

Gospel for Friday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

Optional Memorial: St Sixtus II, Pope amd Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs
Optional Memorial: St Cajetan, Priest

From: Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus Foretells His Passion and Resurrection (Continuation)
[24] Then Jesus told His disciples, "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. [25] For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. [26] For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? [27] For the Son of Man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done. [28] Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom."
24. "Divine love, `poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us' (Romans 5:5), enables lay people to express concretely in their lives the spirit of the Beatitudes. Following Jesus in His poverty, they feel no depression in want, no pride in plenty; imitating the humble Christ, they are not greedy for vain show (cf. Galatians 5:26). They strive to please God rather than men, always ready to abandon everything for Christ (cf. Luke 14:26) and even to endure persecution in the cause of right (cf. Matthew 5:10), having in mind the Lord's saying? `If any man wants to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me'" (Matthew 16:24) ("Apostolicam Actuositatem", 4).

25. A Christian cannot ignore these words of Jesus. He has to risk, to gamble, this present life in order to attain eternal life: "How little a life is to offer to God!" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 420).

Our Lord's requirement means that we must renounce our own will in order to identify with the will of God and so to ensure that, as St. John of the Cross comments, we do not follow the way of those many people who "would have God will that which they themselves will, and are fretful at having to will that which He wills, and find it repugnant to accommodate their will to that of God. Hence it happens to them that oftentimes they think that that wherein they find not their own will and pleasure is not the will of God; and that, on the other hand, when they themselves find satisfaction, God is satisfied. Thus they measure God by themselves and not themselves by God" ("Dark Night of the Soul", Book 1, Chapter 7, 3).

26-27. Christ's words are crystal-clear: every person has to bear in mind the Last Judgment. Salvation, in other words, is something radically personal: "He will repay every man for what he has done" (verse 27).

Man's goal does not consist in accumulating worldly goods; these are only means to an end; man's last end, his ultimate goal, is God Himself; he possesses God in advance, as it were, here on earth by means of grace, and possesses him fully and forever in Heaven. Jesus shows the route to take to reach this destination--denying oneself (that is, saying no to ease, comfort, selfishness and attachment to temporal goods) and taking up the cross. For no earthly--impermanent--good can compare with the soul's eternal salvation. As St. Thomas expresses it with theological precision, "the least good of grace is superior to the natural good of the entire universe" ("Summa Theologiae", I-II, q. 113, a. 9).

28. Here Jesus is referring not to His Last Coming (which He speaks about in the preceding verse) but to other events which will occur prior to that and which will be a sign of His glorification after death. The Coming He speaks of here may refer firstly to His Resurrection and His appearance thereafter; it could also refer to His Transfiguration, which is itself a manifestation of His glory. This coming of Christ in His Kingdom might also be seen in the destruction of Jerusalem--a sign of the end of the ancient people of Israel as a form of the Kingdom of God and its substitution by the Church, the new Kingdom.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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