June 1999

In reading this Word of Life, two kinds of existence come into relief: the earthly life, which is built in this world, and the supernatural life given by God through Jesus, a life which does not end with death and which no one can take away from us.
Therefore, we can choose between two attitudes: one is to be attached to our earthly life, considering it as our only “good”. This attitude leads to thinking only of ourselves, of our own affairs, of our children, thereby sealing ourselves up within a cocoon woven from our self esteem, and inevitably ending up in the emptiness of certain death. The other choice, instead, is to believe that God has given us a much more profound and authentic existence. This would give us the courage to live in a manner that merits this gift to the point of sacrificing our earthly life for the other life.

«Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.»

When Jesus said these words he was thinking of martyrdom. Like all Christians, we should be ready to follow the Master and to remain faithful to the Gospel, to lose our life, even to die a violent death, if necessary, and with the grace of God, we will obtain the true life. Jesus was the first one who “lost his life,” and he regained it glorified. He warned us not to be afraid of those “who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mt. 10:28).
Today he tells us:

«Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.»

If you read the Gospel carefully, you will see that Jesus goes back to this thought for six times. This shows how important it is and how much Jesus takes it into consideration.
But for Jesus, the exhortation to lose one’s life is not only an invitation to martyrdom. It is a fundamental law of Christian life.
We must be ready to renounce setting up our own selves as the ideal of our lives, to give up our selfish independence. If we want to be authentic Christians, we must put Christ at the center of our lives. What does Christ want from us? Love for others. If this becomes the style of our life, we will certainly have lost our own lives, but we will have found eternal life.
And not living for oneself is certainly not, as some people may think, an attitude of renunciation and passivity. Indeed, Christians have a very strong commitment and a keen sense of responsibility.

«Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his 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 spend our day at the service of others, when we transform our work (which is perhaps monotonous and tedious) into a gesture of love, we will experience the joy of greater fulfillment.

«Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.»

By following Jesus’ commandments, which are all pivoted on love, after this brief life we will find eternal life as well.
Let us remember what Jesus will do and say on Judgement day. He will say to those on his right: “Come, blessed… because I was hungry and you gave me to eat… I was a stranger and you welcomed me; naked and you clothed me…” (Mt. 25:34).
To make us participate in the life that does not pass away, he will look at just one thing: if we loved our neighbor, and he will consider as done to himself whatever we did to them.

How then should we live this Word of Life? How should we lose our life even now in order to find it? By preparing ourselves for that great and decisive exam for which we were born.
Let’s look around us and fill our day with acts of love. Christ presents himself to us in our children, in our wife, in our husband, in our colleagues at work, in politics, amusement… Let’s do good to everyone. And let’s not forget those we come to know about every day through the newspapers or through friends or through the television… Let’s do something for everyone, according to our capabilities. When we seem to have used every means, we can still pray for them. Loving is what counts.

Chiara Lubich

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