Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow me. For whoever chooses to save his life will lose it, but the one who loses his life, for my sake, will ﬁnd it. What will one gain by winning the whole world, if he destroys his soul? Or what can a person give, in exchange for his life?
“Know, that the Son of Man will come, in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, and he will reward each one according to his deeds. Truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death, before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Our modern world is obsessed with the quest for happiness. Hence almost any behavior, however sordid and reprehensible, will be excused with the words, “Oh well, they were only trying to be happy.”
Unfortunately, striving to be happy at all costs is like trying to get hold of your shadow. As long as you run after your shadow, thus turning your back to the sun, you will never catch it. However, if you resolutely turn you back on your shadow and walk facing the sun, your shadow will follow you everywhere!
That is the precious lesson that Jesus is trying to teach us in today’s gospel reading. There Jesus tells us: forget yourself, live for God and neighbor, and you will find your life; you will be happy. In other words, happiness cannot be found by seeking it directly. Happiness is a by-product of holiness. It is the result of living a pure life, on rightly related to God, self, and others.
The direction proposed by Christ is clear. Live for yourself and you will not be happy. Forget about being happy and live for others—and then you will indeed be happy.
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