Most countries, like South Africa, have what is termed a witness protection programme! This comes into operation when an individual is needed to give evidence in a crucial trial but...
Last week we faced the challenge that our discipleship involved encountering various forms of opposition and confrontation – even from those very close to us.
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 10: 37 – 42]
concludes the second section of the apostle’s record of the Good News. The verses under consideration emphasise that the cross which must be taken up involves what appears to be a contradiction. Saint Luke’s Good News(12: 8 – 9) illustrates that Jesus, and his Gospel, constitutes asign of contradiction.
It is not difficult for us to recognise the evidence of scores of contradictions within our own immediate society that confront us daily. Our Christian life and living have to be found and uncovered each and every single day.
In fact, very often, as each day progresses, it has to be discovered more than once. This will involve us in the contradiction of finding and losing. Jesus himself warns about this in today’s Gospel. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
These words often puzzle people. However, if we, in the light of frequent personal experience, take and reflect on them at face value we will recognise the astuteness of the counsel the Lord gives us. The words themselves clearly express the paradoxical contradiction of Christianity which creates a tension in society and the life of individual disciple.
I have to face and challenge each tension I encounter. In particular situations I sometimes relent and, even though with some reluctance, give-in and lower my Christian standards in the face of outside pressure and demands. Here we face the ‘hedging of our bets’ which we referred to in last week’s reflection. In so doing I find (uncover) a part of my living which is more immediately comfortable. In so doing, however, I lose a part of the real Christian-Catholic
‘ME’! It is only possible to regain that particular part of ‘me’ by a specific conversion which will involve some sort of particular and more determined refocus. The contrary now becomes clearer. I lose a part of my life-living in an often more comfortable social interaction. However, by adhering to a more public demonstration of the Gospel norms my life in Christ is found (uncovered) with greater clarity.
It is encouraging if we weave Jesus’ further remarks about receiving and giving into what has been said. It is when we give our committed discipleship in an open and tangible manner that we receive Jesus Christ into the life-living of our discipleship. This is the reward we receive. In the face of losing a small piece of one aspect of my living I am blessed with finding a burst to a more important, valuable and lasting foundation of my life as a Christian.
It is in this way that if we walk in the “light of the Lord’s face” that we “find joy every day in his name.” (See
TODAY’S PSALM [89 or 88]). In other words what is emphasised here are phrases often repeated in the Psalms …. as in seek his face, and seek his face always.
However, we should also recognise how
TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE [2 KINGS 4: 8 – 11. 14 – 16a] illustrates the giving and receiving words from our Gospel.
In this scripture it becomes clear that all giving which is not self-seeking requires us to step up to the plate. Notice how the incident starts with the woman who said – “I perceive that this is a holy man of God … .” Like her we must learn to see past immediate appearances and beyond the immediate. Much of our inability to lose in order to find results from failing to look deeper into the situations challenging us. In addition do not read too quickly because then we might, at the end of our extract, miss another sign of contradiction – “well she has no son, and her husband is old.” Also we see something of enormous value – the woman, because of her giving, receives life – a new life that ”
(she) shall embrace.” There are two beams to the cross – one points heavenwards, the other is parallel to the earth. This incident provides a wonderful picture of our God meeting the world in which the woman lived. The contradiction of the cross becomes a reconciliation embracing life.
I must learn to embrace the opportunities given me to lose something of myself in order to receive the benefit of finding a richer and more valuable element of true living. What I receive is never to be regarded as some sort of consolation prize.
A good deal of the Cross’s paradox is explained in our NEW TESTAMENT READING [ROMANS 6: 3 – 4. 8 – 11]. There we read “as Christ was raised from the dead … we too might walk in newness of life … if we have died with Christ we shall also live with him.” All of this helps to explain our finding life and losing it – as well as losing and finding it. This is the daily motivation for being “alive to God in Christ Jesus.“