First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? All this you were allowed to see that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other. Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you; on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out of the fire. For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power, driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you, so as to bring you in and to make their land your heritage, as it is today. This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 77:12-13, 14-15, 16 AND 21
I remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I remember your wonders of old. And I meditate on your works; your exploits I ponder. O God, your way is holy; what great god is there like our God? You are the God who works wonders; among the peoples you have made known your power. With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. You led your people like a flock under the care of Moses and Aaron.
Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28
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 each 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.”
Do you ever wonder if sometimes God looks down at you going through your days, letting yourself get all jacked up about every little thing, and just shakes His head?
I do. All the time.
Because no matter how many times God has come through for me, shown me with signs and wonders how He is right here in the middle of this crazy life with me, revealing His miraculous care for even the tiniest details of my life, I am so quick to hit the internal panic button.
And to put the pressure on my Heavenly Father to show up and make me a miracle. And pronto.
When the stress of all the needs that must be met around me begins to pile up, I tend to lose focus. I take all the work on myself and then put all the pressure on God to bail me out of my flailing, drowning, collapsing misery.
And He does. But I think there are times He would prefer if I learned my lesson once and for all. If I could know in my heart that He is God. And He doesn’t need me to tell Him how to do it.
My part is to obey His commands. And the first of those is to remember that He is God and put nothing before Him. And then to take up my cross and follow Jesus.
Do you know what I often forget about those commands?
God doesn’t ask me to see the long list of tasks or the trials before me, push hard through it until I realize I am in over my head. God promises to go ahead of me and asks me to simply follow him and trust He knows the way.
How would my days look if I handled their cumulative stress by looking for the ways God is walking ahead of me, noticing all the ways He is miraculously present there in my need, waiting for Him to lead and guide me?
What if I only took a step after I was sure He had stepped out ahead of me?
This is what I think it would look like to lose my life to save it.
To lay down my own way and wait for God to show me His.
I bet there would less panicked forfeiting and lot more going well with me.
Lord, help me remember today that I lose my way when I take up my cross and head out on the road ahead of You. Remind me that losing my life, laying down my own will, and waiting to know Yours, is the way to true salvation—one that doesn’t need constant rescuing but walks steadily behind You toward the Kingdom of Heaven.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.