Cycle A 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Jer. 20:7-9; Rom 12:1-2; Mt. 16:21-27

Today’s reading implores us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. In the Gospel of Matthew (16:24-26), Jesus tells his disciples, "If anyone wants to become followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. “The words, "For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life have had a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals throughout history.

Inspired by these words of Jesus, Francis Xavier chose a life of radical selflessness and missionary work. Francis Xavier's dedication to his mission was awe-inspiring. He lived among and cared for the poor and marginalized,

baptized thousands, and established Christian communities in India, Japan, and other parts of Asia. 

In Fyodor Dostoevsky's masterpiece, "The Brothers Karamazov," we encounter the character of Father Zossima, a holy man who embodies the selfless love and sacrifice that Jesus teaches us. Father Zossima's life is a testament to the transformative power of selflessness. He devoted himself to serving others, even in the face of personal suffering and hardship. Through his example, we see how denying oneself and taking up the cross can lead to a deeper and more fulfilling life.

History provides us with countless examples of individuals who sacrificed everything for the sake of others. Oskar Schindler, a German businessman during World War II, is renowned for his selfless efforts to save over 1,000 Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. He risked his own life and financial security to provide shelter, employment, and protection for those under his care, as depicted in the film "Schindler's List."

Harriet Tubman was a former slave who became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, leading hundreds of enslaved people to freedom. Her bravery and selflessness in the face of danger serve as a powerful testament to the impact of one person's dedication to helping others.

Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat during World War II, saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution by providing them with protective passports and shelter. Despite the risks to his own life, Wallenberg persisted in his efforts to protect those in need.

These individuals, among many others, remind us that selflessness knows no boundaries and that ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference by following the call to deny themselves and serve others. Their legacies continue to inspire us to this day, challenging us to prioritize compassion and service in our own lives.

In the contemporary world, our society often emphasizes personal gain, material wealth, and individual success. While these pursuits are not inherently wrong, we must not lose sight of Jesus' profound message. He reminds us that the pursuit of worldly possessions alone will leave us empty and unfulfilled. In our pursuit of selflessness, we must also strike a balance. Self-care is essential to our ability to give to others. It's not about sacrificing our own well-being but finding equilibrium between caring for ourselves and extending care to others.

As Christians, we are called to break free from the chains of self-centeredness and embrace the path of selflessness. This means not only thinking of our own needs but also considering the needs of others. It means being willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, just as Jesus did on the cross. Generosity is a powerful antidote to self-centeredness. Contribute to charitable causes, volunteer your time, or simply lend a helping hand to someone in need. Acts of kindness enrich our lives immeasurably. Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness for the blessings you have, no matter how small. Gratitude helps shift our focus from what we lack to the abundance already present in our lives.

May God Bless you.