"What profit would a man show if he were to gain the whole world and destroy himself in the process?" —Matthew 16:26
When Jesus spoke the above words, He was not simply speaking rhetorically. Jesus actually had an opportunity to gain the whole world for Himself when Satan tempted Him in the desert (see Mt 4:8-9). Jesus knew the lure of gaining the whole world, yet He overcame the world (see Jn 16:33).
Today's ubiquitous lotteries make it possible for even the poorest person to potentially "gain the whole world." A person doesn't have to win the lottery to "destroy himself." He or she only has to want to gain it. "Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and a trap. They are letting themselves be captured by foolish and harmful desires which drag men down to ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all evil. Some men in their passion for it have strayed from the faith, and have come to grief amid great pain" (1 Tm 6:9-10).
That's why the cross is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:21ff). Carrying your cross is totally incompatible with gaining the whole world (see Mt 6:24). Taking up your cross involves self-denial. Without dying to self, you'll run from the cross as did the apostles on Good Friday (see Mk 14:50). Follow in Jesus' footsteps (Mt 16:24) and overcome the temptations of the devil and the glamour of evil.
Prayer: Father, may I not even accommodate thoughts of riches, power, or comfort. Grant that I would desire the cross of Christ. May I never be complacent towards the lure of riches and power.
Promise: power. "All this you were allowed to see that you might know the Lord is God and there is no other." —Dt 4:35
Praise: St. Teresa carried her cross all the way to martyrdom as she was put to death in the Nazi gas chambers.
(This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
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