Homily for February 17th, 2017: Mark 8:34-9:1
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,” Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. Let me give you two examples of people who are denying themselves for Jesus’ sake and that of the Gospel..
The first is a mother with three children, all under six. Their needs keep her busy all day and well into the night. “Sometimes I’d just like to close the door on them and walk away,” she says. “But of course I can’t,” she adds. And she doesn’t. That mother is losing her life for Christ’s sake—for Him who tells us in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s gospel: “Inasmuch as you do it for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it for me.” In serving the needs of her three little ones, she finds a life filled with joy – the special joy that young children bring to a mother who, with her husband, has given these little ones the gift of life.
My second example is taken from the life I know best: that of priests. There are two kinds of priests: the sheets-to-alb priest, who lies abed as long as he can and reaches the sacristy just in time to throw on his vestments before he goes to the altar. And there is another kind of priest. He is up early, an hour at least before Mass, so that he can spend time waiting in silence on the Lord before he ascends the altar steps. Which of these two do you suppose finds priesthood a rat race? And which of the two finds priesthood a life filled with joy? Clearly it is the one who rises early. He is like the busy mother with her three little ones. Like her, he is losing his life for Christ’s sake. And like her, he finds life: a life so filled with joy that he would not trade it for anything.
What is comes down to is this. There are two kinds of people: takers, and givers. Which are you? If you choose to be a taker, I can promise you one thing. You’ll never get enough. It is the givers who experience a measure of joy that only the Lord God can give.