Ps 77:12-13, 14-15, 16 & 21
I remember the deeds of the Lord.
18TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 2 / (Green/Red/White)
St. Sixtus II, pope & martyr, & Companions, martyr / St. Cajetan, priest
1st Reading: Dt 4:32-40
Ask of the times past. Inquire from the day when God created man on earth. Ask from one end of the world to the other: Has there ever been anything as extraordinary as this? Has anything like this been heard of before? Has there ever been a people who remained alive after hearing as you did the voice of the living God from the midst of the fire?
Never has there been a God who went out to look for a people and take them out from among the other nations by the strength of trials and signs, by wonders and by war, with a firm hand and an outstretched arm. Never has there been any deed as tremendous as those done for you by Yahweh in Egypt, which you saw with your own eyes.
You saw this that you might know that Yahweh is God and that there is no other besides him. He let you hear his voice from heaven that you might fear him; on earth he let you see his blazing fire and from the midst of the fire you heard his word. Because of the love he had for your fathers, he chose their descendants after them, and he himself made you leave Egypt with his great power. He expelled before you peoples more numerous and stronger than you, and he has made you occupy their land: today he has given this to you as an inheritance. Therefore, try to be convinced that Yahweh is the only God of heaven and earth, and that there is no other.
Observe the laws and the commandments that I command you today, and everything will be well with you and your children after you. So you will live long in the land which Yahweh, your God, gives you forever.
Gospel: Mt 16:24-28
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life, for my sake, will ?nd it. What will one gain by winning the whole world, if he destroys his soul? Or what can a person give, in exchange for his life?
“Know, that the Son of Man will come, in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, and he will reward each one according to his deeds. Truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death, before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Our modern world is obsessed with the quest for happiness. Hence almost any behavior, however sordid and reprehensible, will be excused with the words, “Oh well, they were only trying to be happy.”
Unfortunately, striving to be happy at all costs is like trying to get hold of your shadow. As long as you run after your shadow, thus turning your back to the sun, you will never catch it. However, if you resolutely turn you back on your shadow and walk facing the sun, your shadow will follow you everywhere!
That is the precious lesson that Jesus is trying to teach us in today’s gospel reading. There Jesus tells us: forget yourself, live for God and neighbor, and you will find your life; you will be happy. In other words, happiness cannot be found by seeking it directly. Happiness is a by-product of holiness. It is the result of living a pure life, on rightly related to God, self, and others.
The direction proposed by Christ is clear. Live for yourself and you will not be happy. Forget about being happy and live for others—and then you will indeed be happy.
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