Reflection on the Sunday's readings: Daniel
Daniel's previous reflections
it all for Jesus – Mark 8:31-35
- In the name of Christ stop this thing! – shouted Telemachus, while at the same time leaping over the barrier and stepping into the arena.
was the first of January
- In the name of Christ stop this thing! – He again cried out while positioning himself in between the gladiators.
crowd was enraged, and the gladiators could not tolerate such a disturbance in
their “noble wrestling.” One of them ran his sword through the monk. As
Telemachus was breathing his last, the people could still hear him saying, “In
the name of Christ stop this thing!” The spell of silence fell on the crowd
and one by one they left the Coliseum. The Emperor Honorius issued the edict
forbidding the games. Never again was there a gladiators’ fight in Rome.
Cheap is an adjective. It denotes something that is inexpensive, but it also describes a quality and an attitude. There are many things on the market that are of cheap quality, and we also know people whose behavior is rather cheap, unkind and unpleasant. However, cheap can also stand for someone’s status or respect in view of others. You feel cheap, meaning ashamed of yourself, because someone has treated you badly without minding your dignity as a person.
having heard that Jesus must suffer, be rejected and then crucified, Peter took
Him aside and said: “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee”
(Mathew 16:22, KJV). Peter wanted to spare his Master the shame and humiliation
of the cross. He did not want Jesus to feel cheap.
He was not aware, however, that by having said so, he was lowering the quality
of Christian faith, making it cheap.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a protestant pastor executed by the SS staff of the
concentration camp at Flossenburg, Germany, in 1945, for opposing Adolf Hitler
and the Nazis wrote: “cheap
grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without
Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Vatican published data regarding Catholics in the world (L’Osservatore
Romano, 2 August, 2006). From 1978 till 2004, the number of Catholic
Christians increased worldwide from 756,533 to
1, 098,366. Half a billion live in Latin America, a predominantly Catholic continent, which is at the same time marked by corruption, immense poverty, child labor, and drug trafficking. In Asia, the number of Catholics has almost doubled reaching 113,489,000 with the Philippines and East Timor as the only Catholic nations in Asia. Yet the Philippines is marked by the corruption scandals, and the increasing rate of crime, whereas East Timor is plagued by tribal conflicts and political unrest. Yes, we grow steadily in the world in quantity. We are the biggest Christian movement worldwide. Do we also grow in quality?
“Let the Christian rest content with his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world. He is living for the sake of the world rather than for the sake of grace. Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace - for grace alone does everything. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace!” wrote Bonhoeffer at the dawn of Nazi era in Germany. And it still holds true for many of us. We have exchanged the cross for a crucifix that hangs from the walls of our churches and houses. It is easier and much cheaper; it does not demand a sacrifice. Yet, Jesus made it clear: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
Costly is also an adjective. We use it when speaking about something that cost more then we would like to pay. But it is also used to describe the outcome of an event that causes troubles or even losses. We often say in such situations, “it was a rather costly business.”
1981 movie, Chariots of fire,
portrayed the story of Eric Henry Liddell, a Scottish athlete, a runner and
rugby player. In 1924, he participated in the Olympic Games held in Paris. His
expertise was the Men’s
Jesus gave it all for us. He did not count the cost of our salvation. “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter finally understood costly grace and wrote to his flock: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Therefore, following Christ needs to be a “costly adventure.” Even if we do not search for persecutions, there are many ways in which our faith calls us to lose our lives for Jesus’ and His gospel.
Ma refused to participate in the shamanic practices of her family, confessing
that she became a Christian. She was disowned and thrown out of her home at her
young age; she was seventeen. Yet, over the years, her faith and commitment won
the entire family for Christ.
whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me
and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35); “The man who loves his life
will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for
eternal life” (John 12:25). We are not comfortable with such sayings of Jesus.
No matter how much we would like to bypass them, deep in our hearts we sense
their powerful message. We are creatures with a divine sparkle. Cheap
faith will never satisfy us. It won’t be of any value; after a period of
time we will get bored, and soon, we will join the ranks of nominal Christians.
Only commitment to something, that has its origin in God and is able to outlive
us, can satisfy the longings of our hearts. Costly
things attract; costly things have
value. Jesus made us aware that to follow Him can only be valuable if we give it
all for Him. This is the way to happiness and fulfillment in life.