Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Nahum 2:1.3.3:1-3.6-7; Matthew 16:24-28)
There is a powerful scene in A Man for All Seasons where St. Thomas More cites today’s gospel. More has been accused of treason and is given his day in court. A former assistant, Richard Rich, is called as a witness of the state to testify against him. Rich is introduced as the solicitor of Wales, a position he gained by conspiring with the authorities. Rich perjures himself saying that More did indeed express denial of the king’s supremacy over the Church of England. As Rich leaves the scene, More says to him: “The Lord asks what profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his life? But you have done so for Wales, Richard?”
Even though Thomas More evidently did not consider Wales much of a prize, many people seem willing to forfeit eternal life for less. It is not for us to judge who will be saved and who will be damned, but certainly people perform actions they know are seriously wrong. Murder, adultery, and abortion are three which quickly come to mind, but there are others which would be in most cases difficult to excuse. These crimes are perpetrated sometimes for relatively shallow reasons like momentary pleasure or avoidance of shame.
No life is easy. All have their share of disappointment and misery. Yet all carry the prospect of happiness. We bear our particular cross, as Jesus admonishes today, without great complaint so that we might follow him to glory. It is also likely that we will find our forbearance bringing a measure of happiness among the people with whom we associate.