Friday, February 18, 2011

“What Could One Give in Exchange for His Life?”

February 18, 2011
Friday in the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words. While the people were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.” The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that they had built. Then the LORD said: “If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says.” Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. (Genesis 11:1-8)

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? (Mark 8:34-37)

Blessed are the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. (Psalms 33:12)

For what or whom would you sacrifice your life?

Most parents would say their children. Many couples would say their spouse or partner. Others would say other family members or treasured friends; many would say their principles or beliefs. We think about the saints and martyrs, people like St. Thomas More, who stood by the teachings of our faith and paid the ultimate human price. We think of the example of people like Valeen Schnurr, who after being shot at close range during the carnage of Columbine was asked by one of the gunman whether she believed in God. She said yes—and the murderers moved on after an exchange with her about why she believed. And we wonder whether we could do the same.

But how often do we think about what we’re willing to give in exchange for everlasting life?

Are we willing to give up excesses, in spending, consumption, and time, excesses that keep us from spending time in prayer or service?

Are we willing to give up willfulness and pride and judgmentalism, traits that get in the way of loving our neighbors as Jesus commands us to love?

Are we willing to give up the false gods of money and position, which distance us from loving the Lord with all our hearts and souls?

The choice is ours.

Think about what your answer is when Jesus asks, “What could one give in exchange for his life?”