Friday, August 29, 2014

Learning to lose

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
August 31, 2014

Matthew 16:21-27

The saying is recorded in all the gospels and repeated six times: "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Jesus isn't talking about a religious issue. He's suggesting to his disciples what the real value of life is.

The saying is expressed in a paradoxical and provocative way. There are two very different ways to orient one's life -- one leads to salvation, the other to perdition. Jesus invites everyone to follow the path that seems harder and less attractive, since it leads human beings to ultimate salvation.

The first path is clinging to life, living exclusively for oneself -- making one's "self" the ultimate reason for and supreme goal of existence. That way of living -- always seeking personal profit or advantage -- leads human beings to perdition.

The second path is losing, living like Jesus, open to the ultimate goal of the Father's humanizing plan -- renouncing personal security and profit, seeking not just one's own good but also the good of others. That generous way of life leads human beings to their salvation.

Jesus is speaking based on his faith in a Savior God, but his words are a serious warning for all. What future awaits a divided and fragmented human race, where economic powers seek their own benefits, countries, their own well-being, and individuals, their self-interest?

The logic that directs the course of the world right now is irrational. We peoples and individuals are falling gradually into the slavery of "always having more." Everything is too little for us to feel satisfied. To live well, we need ever more productivity, more consumption, more material well-being, more power over others.

We seek well-being insatiably but aren't we becoming more and more dehumanized? We want to "advance" ever further, but what progress is this that leads us to abandon millions of human beings to destitution, hunger, and malnutrition? How many years can we enjoy our well-being while closing our borders to the hungry?

If we privileged countries only seek to "save" our standard of living, if we aren't willing to lose our economic potential, we will never take steps towards global solidarity. But let's not fool ourselves. The world will be more and more unsafe and uninhabitable for everyone, including for us. To save human life in the world, we must learn to lose.