Scripture readings for today

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake with save it.” Luke 9:22

The reading, responsorial psalm and Gospel all have a very clear theme: follow God’s rules and life will go well. Whenever I think about doing what is right, when I read these kind of scriptures, my first reaction tends to be that old childlike attitude: following the rules is hard. But something about growing in trust and love (and maturity) helps us understand a little better why God wants us to do what he tells us to do- because it will make life better.

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God doesn’t set forth rules and regulations because he wants to control us. He does it because he wants us free. When we learn to do what we’re supposed to do, when we “obey the commandments of the Lord, your God,” as Moses tells us in the first reading, then we will have prosperity and peace.

Happy are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. How many times have I done what I’m supposed to do only to find that it gives me the exact peace and joy I’ve sought. God wants me to spend time with him. When I do, I find he’s given me everything I need. Jesus wants to offer us peace and joy, wisdom and grace. These things are all gifts from him and the way we find them is to follow what He asks us to do.

It’s so simple, and yet we humans, with our human nature, make life so hard. We think that putting a focus on ourself — on our own wants and needs and desires — that when we do that we’ll find what we’re looking for.

Today’s readings are proof that we can indeed find the answers to all life’s questions and dilemmas, that we can acquire the desires of our hearts. Today, the solution is spelled out so clear. Give up our life, follow Jesus and we will gain the world. It’s as easy as that.