Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 96

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

A fellow tosses a ball to his son. The small boy has only begun to walk. His hands and arms are not well coordinated, so the ball bounces off his arms and hands and chest and rolls into a corner. When he finally retrieves it the child is fascinated by the ball’s rubbery texture, bright color and perfect roundness. As he explores it further with teeth and lips the father says, “Now throw it back to me!”
Here’s a crisis. “You just gave me this ball and now you want it back?”
What the boy must learn is that a ball is good for nothing except to be shared with others. You can’t own it unless you give it away. The pleasure of simple ownership cannot compare to the ecstasy of sharing.
If the child is fortunate enough to be baptized and live in a Christian household he will one day be told, “…whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
You can’t keep your life unless you give it away. It’s a lesson that, like the rubber ball, is so obvious and yet so difficult to learn.
You may enjoy the gift of yourself within limits and for a while. You have talents, energy and abilities and you may take pride in developing these assets. You should improve yourself with disciplines both physical and mental, pursuing maturity and personal depth. You may acquire the things you need, but always with the end in mind – to lose oneself for “my sake.” You don't own them unless you give them away. 
We find our salvation through ecstasis, that fascinating Latin/Greek word comprising ex + stasis = stepping out of one’s station.
The gospels tell us the astonishing story that God himself – who surely has every right to be God without us – becomes our God when he suffers greatly and is rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes; is killed and on the third day raised.
When God says, “Now throw your life back to me!” he knows the cost, and he knows there is no other way. Only because he has opened the way can we go through it to life, love and communion. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.