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August 31st - Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 31st - Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 16:25

Have you ever spent an afternoon browsing the shelves of a library or book store? I could probably roam around Barnes & Noble all day perusing the aisles and getting lost in all sorts of books. From Huckleberry Finn to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, from the poems of Robert Frost to the autobiography of Anne Frank, there is a book for every taste and topic under the sun.

If you're anything like me, then you wish you could read them all. For some reason I seem to think that if I learn all the stories, facts, and figures, then perhaps I'll find the little golden nugget that will reveal the meaning of life.

In today's Gospel, Jesus gives us that golden nugget. Do you want to be fully alive? Do you want to know the meaning of life? Then "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me," He says. It is not enough to get lost in a good book. It is not enough to get caught up in the world of sports, fashion or entertainment. You will find the most joy and fullness of life by losing yourself out of love for God and your neighbors.

Such self-denial is important, because ultimately, life is not about you and me. It is about God. It is about Him Who is Life itself and Who gives us His life, that we too may live. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Thus, reaching our end Goal becomes attainable only when we fix our eyes on Christ rather than ourselves.

Losing oneself can take the shape of many different crosses. A practice as simple as fasting from coffee or desert can help us re-focus on God. An even more beautiful act would be to forgo a desirable purchase in favor of donating the money to a charitable cause.

For many, like the hundreds of thousands of Christians in Iraq and around the globe being persecuted for their faith, the crosses may be quite literal. Countless others must patiently bear the burdens of disease, poverty, and isolation. Yet, through His Cross, Christ is present to us in all these circumstances. Therefore, we can unite our suffering to His and offer it up to God out of love as a true sacrifice (sacra = holy, facere = to do, perform) that will make us holy.

Here, then, is the good news: when suffering is united with love, we become saints, and as saints we will live with God in perfect happiness forever!

Heavenly Father, today I abandon myself into your hands. I offer to you all of my suffering in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I give you my entire mind, heart, and will in the Name of Jesus, that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you may use me as an instrument of your love for the salvation of the world. Amen.