Friday 18 February 2022 – DO YOU WISH TO FOLLOW ?

6th Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Jas 2:14-24, 26

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed, someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God. See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Gospel: Mk 8:34-39 

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “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 and that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me: Leaders normally offer to their followers sweet promises, only to end up granting them heavy demands. Jesus on his part demands self-denial and taking up of one’s cross as the necessary condition for becoming his follower. True faith in God consists not in believing in the existence of one God, which even the demons do, but in totally surrendering oneself to God. This is a total trust in God and as a consequence, entrusting oneself as , as clay is in the hands of God the potter. It is only then that God shall mould us as he wants. This is however, not an escape from one’s responsibility. It is rather a call to intensively cooperate with God seeking his will in all things and trying our best to realize it. What else is more satisfying and self-realizing for a true believer in God!

Prayer: O Lord, help me to find my fulfillment in emptying myself and in being filled by you.

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BE RESPONSIBLE OF YOUR EXPERIENCES: Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we are always responsible for our experiences. I am the architect of my fortune and what becomes of me in life is mainly contributed to by the life philosophy that I profess. Jesus has an offer, “Lose your life in order to save it”, in other words, “Stoop to conquer; step back in order to advance”. There is a significant yet subtle relationship between the world, its values, and the way we think. Nothing in life is genuinely achieved without lots of hard work. Time and energies well-spent are major resources to success. What are my life priorities? On what do I spend my time and energies? Will I in the end say that I was too busy climbing the ladder of success only to realize that the ladder was placed along the wrong wall and building? Since life is always about choices, what are my choices? What are my values? May I, in the end, with courage say like St Paul, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Phil 1:21).