DEUTERONOMY 4: 32 – 40
Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has God ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you; and on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved your fathers and chose their descendants after them, and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence; by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as at this day; know therefore this day, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you this day, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God gives you forever.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 77: 12 – 13, 14 -15, 16 and 21 (R.) 12a
R/. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
I remember the deeds of the Lord,
I remember your wonders of old;
I muse on all your works,
And ponder your mighty deeds. R/.
Your way, O God, is in the holy place.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders.
Among the peoples you showed your power. R/.
Your strong arm redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
You guided your people like a flock”
By the hand of Moses and Aaron. R/.
Matthew 5: 10
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“What shall a man give in return for his life?”
MATTHEW 16: 24 – 28
At that time: Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Purifying Worldly Desires
August 11, 2023
“What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?” (Matthew 16:26)
Would you like to “gain the whole world?” Many people daydream about becoming exceptionally rich and being able to purchase everything they ever wanted. Others dream of doing heroic acts that thrust them into the public spotlight and lead to public admiration. Still, others dream of having great power in this world and being a person of great importance. Though none of these are bad in and of themselves, the inordinate desire for them will damage your relationship with God. And when one of these desires becomes the dominant and all-consuming desire within, the result is that you forfeit your eternal soul.
When we speak of the “world,” we can understand different things. First, this is a reference to all the material things of this world—for example, the best of food and drink, self-indulgence, fleshly pleasures, material wealth, and all that is temporary and passing in this life. Second, the “world” can refer to pride and desire for attention and praise. This is when we become consumed with concern about what others think and say about us. Third, the “world” can refer to the desire for power so as to insert our own will. At a very high level, this is often the cause of wars among countries. One leader has a desire for domination and control. This desire for power and control can also affect each person within any part of that person’s life, including family, friends, work, social circles, etc.
The common thread among all three of these examples of worldly desires is the deception that obtaining more of them will satisfy you. Though they may satisfy you in a temporal and passing way, these desires will also have the effect of destroying your soul. This is because we have to choose. Either we seek to satiate the spiritual yearning of our souls, or we will seek to satiate ourselves with the passing promises of the world. We cannot have both.
It should be noted that obtaining wealth, being publicly praised, or being put in a position of power is not evil in and of itself. In fact, any one of these offers potential for good. The problem arises when a person seeks one of these worldly desires for selfish reasons and under the delusion that it will provide fulfillment. Truth be told, any one of those situations imposes a true cross on the person who is seeking to serve God alone. The responsibility that comes with wealth, prestige, or power is real. Therefore, when one or more of these are obtained, they must be handled with detachment and humility.
For example, if one becomes quite wealthy, the precept to live spiritually detached from material things still remains. Thus, in this case, material wealth poses a certain burden in the form of temptation. While this temptation certainly can be overcome and wealth can be used for good, the danger is real and must be regularly acknowledged. Or, if you are praised by many for something you did, or if you are given much responsibility and authority over others, humility and detachment must also increase so that God and God alone remains the single object of your desire.
Reflect, today, upon your desires. What do you want in life? Do you want to “gain the whole world?” Do you desire to gain even some of the worldly ambitions? If so, be careful. Reflect honestly upon your interior desires and work to purify them so that you desire God’s will alone. Once that happens, it will not matter to you if you are rich or poor, publicly praised or criticized, entrusted with earthly power or not. All that will matter is that you use all for the glory of God, in accord with His perfect and fulfilling will.
Most glorious God, Your will is perfect and is the one and only source of fulfillment in life. Please purify my soul of all desires pertaining only to this world. May my one and only desire in life be the fulfillment of Your holy will so that all I have will only be used for Your glory. Jesus, I trust in You.