My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew is important and precious for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. St Paul in the Letter to the Romans, which we have just heard, wrote: ‘When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death… so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.’
Each of us here present has been baptised. It means that God chose us for baptism. He chose us for baptism because he placed some of us in a Catholic family. Before our parents made the decision to baptise us it was first the decision of God himself. Some of us made this decision themselves as adults. Still it was God’s decision because he revealed to us his glory and love which led us to the baptismal font. Even if our path to baptism was different we need to treasure that at the outset there was God’s choice. God chose us for baptism.
The same God who chose us for baptism also commissioned us to be his Apostles when he poured into us the new life. It is the life which we see in Jesus. It is the life which is all about giving oneself to others. That’s how Jesus lived. That’s how Jesus died. That’s why Jesus wasn’t to stay in the tomb. The life which has been given for others cannot be contained by a grave. There is no grave which can keep it. Such life will break any grave because such life is God’s life. It is life eternal.
Let us listen to some words Jesus said in the Gospel we heard today:
‘Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.’ These words echoed in what Cardinal Francis George said to the young people: ‘The only thing we take with us when we die is what we have given away.’ Can we be surprised that he said it to the young people? It was the most appropriate to address the young people in this way, to show them the lifestyle in which a person makes lots of choices which confirm the fundamental choice of living the lifestyle of Jesus, giving one’s life away. This is what defines my religious order the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Oblate means offered. It is someone who has made an offering of his life. Our Founder St Eugene de Mazenod understood that to be a missionary one needs to give his whole life to it. That’s how Jesus lived his mission. That’s the lifestyle he proposed to his Twelve Apostles.
As an Oblate, whose distinctive feature is a crucifix worn on the cassock, I couldn’t overlook what Jesus spoke about the cross today. In fact it is the first time when the word cross appears in the Gospel. However Jesus doesn’t talk about his cross but about ours: ‘Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy on me.’ Cross takes form of anything in our life we would like to get rid of. It can be something physical. It can be something moral. It can be something emotional. It can be something relational etc. Our Blessed Lord doesn’t see it as a obstacle for us to be good Apostles, providing we follow in his footsteps.
Taking our cross is the strongest expression of us giving away ourselves. Taking our cross means that we have given away our dreams to have an easy and smooth life. Instead we have chosen to live the life where God is everything in everything.