Perhaps you’ve struggled to understand those words of Jesus about losing or gaining your life (Mark 8:35). Welcome to the party, I say. “Gaining the whole world and forfeiting one’s life” sounds pretty bad; like dying an awful death of suffocation inside a house stuffed with possessions, awards, or a heap of stock portfolio reports.
There may be more profound ways to contemplate these words of our Lord, however: Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about where life (my life) is too comfortable or faith (my faith) is too contented. Might the American church as a whole be living too bolted down of an existence, too safe and overly self-satisfied in its ways? I don’t know. But some Oscar Romero words about comfort and contentment really challenge me.
Romero was archbishop of San Salvador when he was gunned down while celebrating Mass on this day 42 years ago – March 24, 1980. A defender of human rights, champion of the poor, and advocate for El Salvador’s civil war victims, Romero is remembered for his courage and candor. In his memory today, and atop the comfort and tranquility of my life (and perhaps yours), I want to sprinkle some extraordinary words of his. Here is how he translates Jesus speaking to us:
“Those who would save their lives – that is, those who want to get along, who don’t want commitments, who don’t want to get into problems, who want to stay outside of a situation that demands the involvement of all of us – they will lose their lives. What a terrible thing, to have lived quite comfortably, with no suffering, not getting involved in problems, quite tranquil, quite settled, with good connections politically, economically, socially … lacking nothing, having everything, but to what good? They will lose their lives.”
“But those, who for their love of me, uproot themselves and accompany the people, and go with the poor in their suffering, and become incarnate, and feel as their own the pain and the abuse [of others] – they will secure their lives, because my Father will reward them. Brothers and sisters, God’s word calls us to this today. Let me tell you with all the conviction I can muster, it is worthwhile to be a Christian.”
I’ve considered myself a Christian all my life. Now to aim for being a more worthwhile Christian.