Today I rode 16 miles. The weather was perfect to ride much more, and I was feeling strong. But I had a wedding in the afternoon for which to prepare, plus the usual Saturday activities of Confessions and Vigil Mass. On Friday nights, we have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until Midnight. (On First Fridays, it goes all night until 8 in the morning). Usually, we close at Midnight with Benediction, and that usually falls to me. So it is a bit difficult to get up and going on Saturdays. Last night, one of the deacons was there, so I let him do the Benediction, while I went to sleep.
In the Gospel yesterday, Jesus asks the question What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? (Mark 8:36-37). It really is a good question to confront ourselves with from time to time. Are we really focused on what is eternal, or are we stuck with the transitory? It is very easy to get caught up in the things of the world, even good things. We can start off wanting to develop and use our talents as best we can, we can begin by desiring to provide for our families, we can commit to building a business that will be a good place to work and provide excellent service and integrity. But then it is a temptation not to let the time get away from us, or the work to begin to control us, or the amassing of goods begin to consume us. Saint Augustine spoke about it in his Confessions. He remarked to God how he had fallen in love with the created goods and failed to see their Creator, who should have been the One whom Augustine sought.
Even in the collection of spiritual goods, we can lose sight of our main goal- to love God above all things and in all things. That was Jesus’ complaint against the Pharisees- that many focused so much on certain external practices of their faith that they lost sight of mercy and sharing God’s love (which did not require disobedience of the commandments, but a higher level of commitment to them).
To all of us, Jesus commands us to take up our cross. That is, we are to imitate Jesus Himself if we are to put things in proper order in our lives. And what is first is to empty ourselves so as to be ready to receive the Grace of God in abundance.