As I start to reflect on the gospel for August 7, I wonder how willing I would be to deny myself and take up my cross to follow Jesus. Does he really want me to give up the pleasures of this day or the pleasures of any other day? It does not seem like that would make much sense since it is his work of creation that is the source of my pleasures. Rather, I think He has given me life’s pleasures for my happiness and as a reminder of his love. In a few days, the weather will return to the usual normal hot muggy pattern of late July, and the comforts and pleasures of this day will be replaced with other reminders of God’ love as long as I am open to them.
I think Jesus is reminding us that God is the source of all that we have, whether that be a share in his beautiful creation, material possessions, talents, physical attractiveness, relationships with family and friends,etc. We have done nothing to earn God’s gifts, they are given to us to draw us closer to Him. It is in acknowledging their source and using the gifts in ways that give praise to God, that we deny our egos of the self-centered belief that we have done something to earn them or have a right to them. It is in that kind of self-denial that we open ourselves to God’s love as said in the prayer from St. Ignatius of Loyola:
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