August 5, 2016 Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "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. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."
Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to seek the things that are above. Help me to seek the things that last forever, so that all the things that I do may give you glory and help my brothers and sisters to grow closer to you, who live and reign with Christ, your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Petition: Father, give me the courage to take up my cross and follow in the footsteps of your Son.
1. Friends of the Cross: There are many Christians that are willing to be friends with Jesus in good times. However, there are very few Christians that are true friends of Jesus, who embrace the cross at all times, even in the bad. Of course, it is never easy to be a friend of the cross, but who wants to be a fair-weather fan of Jesus and his Gospel? Our Christian lives are a constant battle. We should never forget that. We all are tempted to escape from the reality of our situation from time to time. Nevertheless, whoever perseveres until the end will be saved and have a fruitful life. We can't expect to have a glorious eternity full of celebration and joy if we don't shed some blood, sweat and tears here on earth for the sake of Christ and the good of our brothers and sisters.
2. Money Can't Buy You Love: "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?" In other words, Jesus is saying that it doesn't matter how much money you make, or what kind of car you drive, or what kind of clothes you wear, or what kind of degree you have. You might spend your whole life trying to earn millions of dollars and amass all sorts of luxuries and securities, but you will have done all this in vain. You will have missed out on the true meaning of life and the true treasure of love. Don't make the mistake of constantly trying to make life easier and more comfortable for yourself. You will only end up being hopelessly miserable and extremely lonely.
3. Paybacks Are Tough: "For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct." It is clear that Jesus will not let us into heaven just because we say we believe in him. He also makes this clear in other teachings throughout the Gospels. Faith alone is not sufficient to be saved. Even Satan and his devils believe — and shudder (cf. James 2:19). Let us reflect on the words of Saint James for further insight: "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:14-17).
Conversation with Christ: I pledge allegiance to the cross and to the holy, Catholic Church; and to the Kingdom for which it stands: One Body in Jesus Christ, everlasting life, with forgiveness and freedom from sin.
Resolution: I will perform some corporal work of mercy today. ("The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God" [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447]).