A reflection on the Scripture Readings for August 31, 2008. We live in such a paradox. Many of us spend so much time worrying about our future and acting in self-preserving ways. Working to make more money (and it's never enough), buying bigger houses, seeking experiences that would give us pleasure, comfort, and instant joy. We are acting from such a powerful instinct. Yet, facts tell us that those most secured financially, those that have acquired the most fame or pleasures, are not necessaily any happier than the rest. Actually, they are at times misserable.
Studies by researchers (without a faith-based inclination) have found that after considering many variables, the happiest people are those that are moved to serve others inspired by a purpose greater than themselves. Their research proved what Jesus told us many years ago:
“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 will find it."
Intellectually, I get it. But it's so difficult as we struggle with the selfless acts that bring us true happiness and the near term acts that gives us "safety" and short-term happiness.
I think the answer is in the phrase "to lose his life." I can read this as to no longer have my life, but I can also read this as to no longer try to control my life. To give God full reign over me and guide me. To surrender. In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah was strugling to control his life and not speak God's words because of the rejection and burden they were causing him. At the end, he couldn't. "But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it."
I think this is the key. To find life, we need to lose ours and all our selfish ambitions. That is too difficult, unless we surrender and allow the Holy Spirit to transform our heart so it burns with love for God and others. We won't be able to hold that love in. Like Jeremy, we won't be able to endure not speaking God's words, and not taking our cross.
God bless everyone!