A favorite short novel of mine is The 10th Man by Catholic author Graham Greene. The story line begins in a German POW camp where 10 prisoners are condemned to die, and one trades all his worldly possessions to another prisoner’s family to take his place and die in his stead. The rest of the novel is the challenge of the family who resents the possessions they now own in place of their murdered son/brother and the released prisoner who resents his purchased life. It’s a great read and places the question before us of what would we be willing to trade our lives.
While not with the dramatic flair of a 20th century novel, Jesus gets us thinking about similar things in this Sunday’s Gospel. “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it” we hear in chapter 16 of Matthew as Jesus puts before us the challenge to lose our lives for his sake. Imagine coming among us to challenge us so! Imagine trying to get people to trade their lives for the cross! And yet, we believe if we have gained the whole world and forfeited our real lives, we have gained nothing. So what is the real life we are called to embrace and not trade?
It is always the cross. Embrace the cross. Embrace the challenge, the difficulty, the situation from which you would rather run. Jesus knows that each of us is called to live through circumstances that we would prefer to trade, and yet it is in those very circumstances where He can be found, where resurrection reigns. Let’s not look to others’ lives and wonder why we don’t have what they have. Rather, let us celebrate Christ with us as we live the challenges of each day.
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