Daily Reflection
February 17th, 2006

Andy Alexander, S.J.

University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
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James 2:14-24, 26
Psalm 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Mark 8:34–9:1

I really understand that the disciples of Jesus didn't comprehend his mission and felt very frightened by his prediction of his passion and death. It makes sense to me that they were resistant to going to Jerusalem with him. His words to them, however, are worthy of some prayerful meditation.

If we let ourselves come into God's presence consciously, and rest there for a moment, we can begin our meditation with its proper first prelude. God is Love and we can pause to experience that Love make its home in us and brings us peace. The second prelude would be to ask for what we desire in this prayer. Here it would be appropriate to ask for the grace to be open to the words of Jesus, addressed to me, in my life as it is now. It will be important to take the few moments it takes to sincerely ask to be given the deep experience of Jesus' calling me, calming me, offering me what I need to be his disciple.

If you wish to follow me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
Deny myself. This gets my attention right away. He is asking me to be more selective in the ways I choose everything. It is fairly easy - the the freedom and honesty of resting here in his love - to admit the ways I am self-indulgent. I find myself asking for the gift to be freer and to be able to deny myself in this or that particular area. It is not difficult to imagine crosses in my life, even little ones. I'm sure he doesn't mean most of those. I suspect he is inviting me to experience the rejection I will likely encounter if I live my faith in him more completely and radically. Follow me. Yes, that's the choice. It is so easy to follow the ways of the world around me. To follow him, redirects everything else. It is nice to just rest and think about that for a while.

For if you wish to save your life you will lose it.
It really helps to hear this so clearly stated. I have lots of experience with this. I can come up with examples of when I have grabbed for something I thought I needed desperately and really risked losing myself, my identity, my integrity, my purpose.

But, if you lose your life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, you will save it.
And, I know this experience, too. When I've been free and generous in giving of myself to others, even in giving without counting the cost, those were the most fulfilling and self-identity defining experiences of my life. I can feel the desire to make this more and more my way of choosing, and growing in knowing how to do this- for the sake of the Gospel.

What profit is there for you to gain the whole world and forfeit your life?
That's a question that I can carry with me into lots of situations, into lots of battles and huge investments of effort. What does it mean? Where is this leading me? What am I trying to win? And at what cost to me, my family, my faith, my relationship with God?

Thank you, Lord, for this brief opportunity to hear you speak to me so directly. Thank you for this clear call to freedom. You really do love me and desire to protect me from my self-destruction. I ask, as Ignatius prayed, "Give me your love and your grace and I will be rich enough, and ask for nothing more."

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