“He that shall lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25)
It is remarkable that this promise of Our Lord is recorded in almost identical terms by each of the four Evangelists. Our Blessed Lord evidently repeated the promise and condition on several occasions. See the following: Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; Luke 17:33 and John 12:15. This should most certainly convince us of its extraordinary importance!
The condition is hard to human nature, and that there may be no mistake as to what is meant by losing one’s life in order to find it, Our Blessed Lord Himself explains the words thus: ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross daily and follow Me.’ To lose one’s life means to offer it as a daily holocaust to Christ, to die to self –not by the swift stroke of an executioner, but by the daily, hourly sacrifice of self, which is a veritable if slow martyrdom.
St. Claude de la Colombiére was spot on when he wrote: “Things that generally frighten human nature, such as imprisonment, continual ill-health and even death itself, all appear sweet to me in comparison with the eternal war that I have to wage against myself, and with this constant vigilance which is necessary to as not to be taken unawares by the world and by my own self-love.”
We have to lose our life: to give up, to let go to the things of this world in order to cling to eternity. Thousands of missionaries, both men and women, give up home and country, losing all that is dear in foreign and often hostile lands. All who enter the priesthood give up all that they may be ‘other Christs’, and offer the spotless Lamb of God for the sins of the world. Religious relinquish all for God. All these will be rewarded a hundredfold – but there is an inner losing of life for Christ, open to all, and therefore to each one of us!
There is a voluntary offering of self to God which is compatible with every state of life, with every age and condition. It consists in the surrender of self to God and to His Holy Will in every circumstance of life, and it is this sacrifice of self which can claim the fulfillment of Christ’s promise. Interestingly, nothing need be changed outwardly, nothing need appear on the surface, but deep down in the inward recesses of the heart the sacrifice is made and voluntarily carried out daily and hourly.
Sometimes, God Himself places His Hand upon our life and with one touch overthrows all our plans and hopes. Death deprives us of those we love, fortune slips through our fingers, projects fail, all seems to collapse; yet if we only accept and cling more closely to God we shall find that though from a human point of view all seems lost, it is not really so – it may be that only now do we set our foot firmly on the upward path that leads to everlasting bliss. It is only now at this point in our lives that in losing that we find.