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June 1999

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10:39) 

On reading these words of Jesus two kinds of life stand out: earthly life, which is built in this world, and supernatural life which is given by God through Jesus and is a life that does not end with death and which no one can take from us.

So, when faced with our own existence, there are two attitudes that we can adopt. One is to attach ourselves to earthly life, considering it as our only ‘good’. This leads us to think only of ourselves, our own things, and our own family. By closing ourselves in our shell and affirming only self, inevitably, at the end of it all, we find only death. On the other hand, we can have a different attitude, believing that we have received a much deeper and more authentic existence from God. We would then have the courage to live in a way that makes us more worthy to receive this gift, even to the point of knowing how to sacrifice our earthly life for the other life.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

When Jesus said these words he was thinking of martyrdom. Just like every Christian who wants to follow the Master and remain faithful to the Gospel, we must be ready to lose our life, and, if necessary, to die a violent death. With God's grace this would give us true life. Jesus was the first one who 'lost his life' and he regained it in glory. He has warned us not to be afraid of 'those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul'. (Matt. 1:28). Today he says to us:

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

If you read the Gospel carefully you will see that Jesus returns to this subject a good six times. This shows how important it is and the value given to it by Jesus.

But Jesus does not see the exhortation to be ready to lose one's life only as an invitation to accept martyrdom. It is a fundamental law of Christian life.

We must be ready to renounce making our own self the ideal of our life and renounce our own egoistic independence. If we want to be true Christians we must make Christ the centre of our existence. And what does Christ want from us? He wants us to love our neighbour. If we make his plans for us our own, we will certainly lose ourselves and find life.

This attitude of not living for oneself is certainly not, as some might think, a question of being passive and prone to give in. Christians always show a strong commitment and their sense of responsibility is total.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Even in this life it is possible to experience that by giving ourselves, by putting love into every action, ‘life’ grows within us. When we have spent our day at the service of others and transformed our work (which may be hard and monotonous) into a gesture of love, we will experience the joy of feeling more fulfilled.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

By following Jesus' commandments, which are all centred on love, after this brief life we will find eternal life as well.

Let us remember what Jesus' judgement will be on the Last Day. He will say to those on his right: "Come, you that are blessed ... for I was hungry and you gave me food ... I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing..." (Matt. 25:34).

To let us share in the life that does not pass away, he will only look to see whether we have loved our neighbours, and he will consider as done to himself whatever we have done to them.

How then should we live this Word of Life? How can we lose our life right from today in order to find it?

By preparing for the great and decisive test which we were born for.

Let's look around us and fill our day with acts of love. Christ presents himself to us in our children, in our wife or husband, in our colleagues and friends at work in politics or leisure activities. Let's do good to everyone. And let's not forget those we come to know about every day through the newspapers, through friends or in television. Let's do something for everyone, in as much as we are able to. And when we have done all we can, we can still pray for them. Love is what counts.

Chiara Lubich

 

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The Word of Life is published by the Focolare Movement