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Scripture of the Week: Losing Our Lives
August 28, 2017, 10:21 am
Filed under: Devotions

Matthew 16:24-26
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Grace and peace to you, siblings in Christ.
This Sunday we’ll hear some challenging words from Jesus, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Jesus is going to the cross. It’s the last place anyone would expect to find a god. Yet there he goes, and there we are called to follow. We know that the cross meant Jesus’ death, his unity with those who suffer, and led to his resurrection. But what does it mean for us to take up our cross and to lose our lives for Jesus’ sake?
I spent a lot of time in the car these past few weeks. I didn’t get to listen to as many podcasts as I had expected, but I did listen to one that has helped me reframe this passage from Matthew. It was an episode of “On Being,” hosted by Krista Tippet from Dec 2014. Look below for the link so you can listen or read through the part of this episode that especially connects.
Ms. Tippet’s guest was Father James Martin, who spoke about being a Jesuit – Catholic. He explained a part of Ignatian spirituality:
Ignatius wanted us to be free of anything that kept us from following God. He called them disordered attachments. And the idea is that if anything keeps you from being more open to God’s will in your life, get rid of it, basically.
When I read Jesus declaring, “those who lose their life for my sake will find it” I hear where Ignatius’ encouragement helps us follow Jesus. We look at our lives, see what we avoid and what we move towards, and consider if we’re following or missing out on God’s intention for us.
Ignatius- and Jesus- invite us to look at our expectations for our lives and let them go- or at least, not be so attached to them. Do you have a 5-year, 10-year, 20-year plan? Things you expect to do? A track you’ve laid out for yourself? How tightly is your identity bound to your work or to a relationship? Are you so tied to your plans and your vision of yourself that you might be missing what God has in mind for you? So set on your own way that you might be closing yourself off to the new opportunities God is giving you to follow and serve? I encourage you to take that to prayer this week. God is the source of life and meaning.
Jesus loves you so much that he didn’t avoid the hard work God called him to. In Jesus, God has done all things so that you would be well and have life abundantly.
God is with you! -Pastor Liz

https://onbeing.org/programs/james-martin-finding-god-in-all-things/

(EXCERPT)…
FR. MARTIN: Well, Ignatius wanted us to be free of anything that kept us from following God. He called them disordered attachments. And the idea is that if anything keeps you from being more open to God’s will in your life, get rid of it, basically. A simple example. When I was a Jesuit novice, the first part of the Jesuit training, I went into my novice director and we were supposed to assigned to different ministries working with the poor the first year of our Novitiate. And I said, well, you know what?
The last thing I want to do [laughs] I said, is work in a hospital. I don’t think I could stand that. The smells, and the sights, and the sounds. And he said, well, good, then you’ll be working in a hospital. [laughs] And why’s he doing that? It wasn’t to punish me. It was to kind of free me up from that. So, his insight was, which is a very classic Jesuit insight, if that is something that’s going to be preventing you meeting people, and from doing your ministry, you need to let go of it. And the way to let go of it, in this case, was to kind of experience it. And now I can go into hospitals, and imagine a priest who was so unfree that he couldn’t set foot in a hospital. You know, or a Jesuit who couldn’t…
MS. TIPPETT: So is that this concept…
FR. MARTIN: …do that.
MS. TIPPETT: …of agere contra?
FR. MARTIN: Yes.
MS. TIPPETT: To act against, which…
FR. MARTIN: Mm-hmm.
MS. TIPPETT: At the end of your book, The Jesuit Guide to Nearly Everything, you said in this interview you wished you’d written more about that. And I think that’s what you just described, isn’t it, that sometimes, in fact, we have to act against our instincts to do what we actually really want to do. Right?
FR. MARTIN: Yeah. Yeah. So, agere contra, to act against is exactly that, and it’s a way of freeing yourself up. And it can sound kind of masochistic but it’s basically — it’s confronting those fears, not simply for the sake of confronting them, to kind of show how strong you are, master them, but to let go of it.

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