If You Lose All For My Sake, You`ll Gain All
Here we have a typical story of the vocation and the saving work of a Judge. The people are unfaithful; God calls Gideon to liberate Israel from the Madianite oppressors. Gideon asks and gets a sign for his mission.
In today’s gospel Peter asks, “What about us, Lord?” and Jesus answers that it is difficult for those who are attached to things to enter the kingdom of heaven. We want to follow him. Have we given up everything for his sake? Where do we stand? What is our situation? Jesus promises eternal life. The poor shall be rich. Those who follow Jesus throughout, even losing their life, will live with God. However, we must not forget this: many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. I tremble.
1 Reading: Judges 6:11-24a
The angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah
that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to save it from the Midianites, the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, O champion!” Gideon said to him, “My Lord, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers told us when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ For now the LORD has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian.” The LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.” But Gideon answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the lowliest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.” “I shall be with you,” the LORD said to him, “and you will cut down Midian to the last man.” Gideon answered him, “If I find favour with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you and bring out my offering and set it before you.” He answered, “I will await your return.” So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and a measure of flour in the form of unleavened cakes. Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out to him under the terebinth and presented them. The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unleavened cakes and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth.” When he had done so, the angel of the LORD stretched out the tip of the staff he held, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Thereupon a fire came up from the rock that consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the angel of the LORD disappeared from sight. Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the LORD, said, “Alas, Lord GOD, that I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” The LORD answered him, “Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.” So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD and called it Yahweh-shalom.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 85:9, 11-12, 13-14
R. (see 9b) The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace
To his people, and to his faithful ones,
and to those who put in him their hope. R.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven. R.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps. R.
Alleluia: 2 Corinthians 8:9
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Biblical Fire! Sign of God`s presence not destruction. Gideon did not see himself or his family as worthy of God’s selection to defend Israel. Before undertaking the task of defeating the Midianites, he asks the angel of the Lord for a sign. When fire consumes the offering he brings (cf. also 1Kgs 18:38), he realizes that the Lord has intervened in his life.
In the New Testament it is not insignificance that is an obstacle to engagement in God’s will. In fact, as the story of Gideon illustrates in its own way, there are other criteria at work in God’s plan. Jesus today makes it clear to his disciples that riches can easily stand in the way of responding to God’s invitation. Indeed, it is extremely difficult to give oneself to the reign of God while storing up treasures of this world’s goods. And what of the disciples who have surrendered all in following Jesus? They will sit in judgment of the twelve tribes of Israel. In fact, all who give themselves entirely to the name of Jesus will be adequately provided for and will inherit eternal life.
Is there then no hope for the rich? Indeed, there is. What seems to be humanly impossible is possible for God. We need but think of the wealthy people who are on our calendar of saints— Elizabeth of Hungary, Catherine Drexel, Catherine McAuley, Louis, Anthony Claret. Not only were they wealthy, they launched important religious traditions. But when all is said and done, we have nothing to regret if we have little of what this world has to offer. Our inheritance still remains intact.
“What about us?” We know that the Lord knows us and loves us and that we are in his hands. No worry! If we lose all for his sake, we will gain all. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!