Cortez: The Paradox of Losing to Keep

“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

These are powerful words of Jesus contained in this Sunday’s gospel. They are words that invite us to reconsider how we are to view our worldliness and sinfulness – love that lifestyle and we will perish for all eternity; hate it and we shall live forever.

Jesus does not mince words. He said exactly what he meant, and especially in this Season of Lent, the decision is ours to make. By offering his life as atonement for our sins, Jesus became our source of salvation, but we must respond by obeying him (See 2nd Reading, particularly Hebrews 5:9).

Salvation is a gift; we are saved by the grace of God through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Such grace, however, is not cheap grace, for it cost the suffering and gruesome death of the innocent victim – Jesus, the Son of God.

For us. It is indeed a gift because we receive it free, but the truth is that someone paid the highest price for it – our loving Father paying through the life of his dearly beloved Son.

We must thus receive this gift with the proper disposition, with gratefulness in our hearts and with a firm resolve to follow Jesus. We must repent, hate our worldly life of sin, carry our own crosses, and do good. After all, as St. Paul writes, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Salvation as received by grace, through faith, should never be a license to continue living a life of sin. We cannot claim to be saved and then continue to do evil. We cannot say sorry for our sins and yet harbor the intention to repeat the commission of the same sin over and over again.

Our faith should be consistent with our actions. And if only to stress this principle, St. James had this to say, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so is faith without works is dead” (James 2:18, 24, 26).

This holy season let us all have an honest-to-goodness re-examination of how we live our lives. Lest we forget, “God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return” (Galatians 6:7). The Lord looks at the heart and examines the mind (Jeremiah 17:10); nothing is ever hidden in his sight (Hebrews 4:13).

May we then be bold enough to lose our lives in this world so we can keep them for eternal life.
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