In today’s gospel Jesus show Himself to be the ideal of bravery and wisdom. Every saint who followed Jesus had that ideal branded into their soul and were willing to lay down their life so Jesus’ teachings may live. His teaching, “Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
After hearing those words at today’s mass I thought of those brave soldiers who hit the beach at Normandy in World War II. They knew they would probably die, but they believed they were in a fight against evil, as Jesus did. They believed in a cause bigger than themselves. Whether you call that cause freedom or justice or goodness, at it’s root, that cause is the great eternal “I am.” That’s God’s brand and it’s burned into our souls.
It happened at the dawn of the new covenant between God and man. The words carved in stone as commandments were seared into our consciousness by Christ’s teaching. The power of that new covenant inspired heroes of all faiths in succeeding generations and gave them the courage to have faith in something far greater than this life. Even among those who profess they don’t believe in a God, if they lay down their life for an eternal cause, God’s brand shines through: “I am!”
Jesus died so that we may face death with the courage and conviction that God’s covenant of eternal life will be fulfilled. Through Jesus’ death we came to know God lives. The first reading, from Jeremiah, presaged Jesus’ coming and his mission: “They will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind.’ ”
Guilt-free for eternity? Sound like heaven to me!