What is the Catholic interpretation of the following two Scripture verses:
[quote=Luke 17:33, RSV]Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
[quote=John 12:25, RSV]He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
These verses have always troubled me since it almost sounds like it is saying it is a sin to enjoy life or to want to be successful/comfortable, but this is not Church teaching though I believe. It would seem to me that the only time ‘love of life’ could become a sin would be is if you are willing to renounce your faith in order to save your life or you were somehow sacrificing others to save yourself.
So, what would be the Catholic interpretation of these passages?
I think he’s saying to aim for heaven, not here. Don’t settle with making this life the end all be all, because many people end up losing their soul. They end up looking always for
instant gratification here instead of preparing for heaven, everlasting joy, by repenting.
Don’t worry about making yourself happy here. Do God’s will. Any happiness here is short-lived.
It is not, in fact, Church teaching. We are to value human life; given that we are human beings ourselves, it follows we must value our own.
It would seem to me that the only time ‘love of life’ could become a sin would be is if you are willing to renounce your faith in order to save your life or you were somehow sacrificing others to save yourself.
It could become a sin if you became obsessed with physical health, etc. to the point of iignoring your realtionship to God, to others, or the spiritual/intellectual side of your being. As a priest recently told me, “People will talk your ear off about their diets, supplements, exercises, etc, but mention God to them and they become uncomfortable.”
We should and must value our natural bodies. But at the same time, we need to remember that we can’t take them to Heaven.
So, what would be the Catholic interpretation of these passages?
I am not a priest; this is just MX$2 worth from an average sinner:
We should not “love our life” so much that we do not make CHRIST the center of it. Whatever we may make of our life personally, professionally, etc, it will come to an endpoint the day we can’t breathe. Whereas, “he that doth the will of GOD abideth for ever” (1Jn 2;17).
Jesus frequently used hyperbole to make His points (and to shake up His listeners). Consider the comments about cutting off one’s hand or gouging out one’s eye.
Here, He is emphasizing what is truly important is eternal life, not earthly life. We may be called to give up our lives (like martyrs) or some of our ordinary lives (as a priest gives up marriage and family) or we may be called to serve in our ordinary lives - but in whatever situation, we must put Him first.
You should deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow the will of God. You will lose your will in this life in order to gain life in the next. If you love yourself more than God, and choose to love your will over God’s will, you will not get into heaven. Our own wills become selfish, denying our own love being given to others and God.
Berhane is right in the fact that it is a sort of martyrdom. You sacrifice your will to do God’s will, which is all-holy.
Ask God what He wants. This is an important test to see whether you trust in Him. Remember that God’s will for you is your surest way to salvation, and it gains for Him the most merit. He knows far more than we do what is best for us. If you have serious doubts that God wills for you to go into a career of politics, I suggest you pray for discernment.
Do we have to discern God’s particular will for our lives (this was a question I posed in another thread)? I mean, according to the Church, don’t we just have to avoid mortal sin in order to make it to Heaven.
What if we do not deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him? Where is the objective sin there. I mean, if I go into politics or something else, neither is a sin though.
It seems one could argue the passage is simply directly dealing with issues of martyrdom. Obviously, to deny one’s faith is a very grave sin.
Honestly, it is hard for me to love God because it seems like it all comes down to just trying to avoid Hell. I mean, if behind every demand is the threat of Hell, how can I honestly love Him.
EDIT: If all are required to follow Christ in this supreme sort of way, then why does the Church draw a distinction between the precepts/Commandments and the Evangelical Counsels?
If I were to become a successful politician, I would always remain obedient to the Church. I would work to stop abortion. Also, even though personally I sometimes might think the death penalty is necessary, I would commute any death sentences if I were say a governor or something. We need politicians who actually obey the Church…
You are correct in that it is NOT all about “trying to avoid hell.” Jesus’ death offers us salvation from hell. Obedience is our response. As we grow closer to Him, we long to please Him whom we love and who gave Himself for us - it’s not about “avoiding hell” any more, we’re not in danger of hell if we remain in relationship with Him.
Paul wrote “whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the Name of the Lord, Jesus the Christ.” (Col. 3:17). So it’s not that we are all called to be professed religious or martyrs, it’s that we’re called to live our lives for Him, even in what appear to be perfectly ordinary lives. St. Therese talked about scrubbing floors for Jesus. That’s what these verses are about.
We will never achieve perfection in this life, but as long as we live, we can grow closer to it as we grow closer to Him.
Yes, we have to avoid mortal sin. God’s Will allows for everyday avoidance of sin and long term callings. God has a special mission for you on earth. Everyone who ever came into existence was given a special purpose for their life. Ask God what he wants you to do. Don’t just do what you want. Doing what you want will never make you truly happy. You were created to do God’s will, and because of this, you will only feel truly happy when you do. You may feel slightly happy with your own will, but an enduring and everlasting joy with having done God’s will for you.
The passage has nothing to do only with martyrdom. Everyone is called to carry his/her trials in life patiently in order to unite himself with Christ’s sufferings. It is truly holy. If you truly feel you are being called to religious life, you can still do work in the realm of politics, by leading in the stand against abortion and many other roles.
Here is what the catechism says:
2013 “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.
2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:
He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.
1344 Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus “until he comes,” the pilgrim People of God advances, “following the narrow way of the cross,” toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom.
1435 Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.
2826 By prayer we can discern “what is the will of God” and obtain the endurance to do it. Jesus teaches us that one enters the kingdom of heaven not by speaking words, but by doing “the will of my Father in heaven.”
898 “By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. . . . It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and maybe to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer.”
2232 Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Loving God if only to avoid hell is not a love you should have. Roman Catholicism isn’t all fire and brimstone. God is equally as merciful as he is just. Ask Him to help you to trust in His Mercy. This page will explain the differences.
They mainly sum up to this…you can get to heaven by the skin of your teeth by following to a tee the ten commandments, which very few are able to complete, or you can go the extra mile and follow the counsels, which will help you more in expiation of your sins.
Keep in mind that every human person has the commandments written in his heart.
The most important point is that we remember that our citizenship is in Heaven, not here on earth. Though “world” is also to be taken in the sense of “worldly minded” which we are to be heavenly minded. It is not sin to try to do the best you can in life and to be happy, but at the same time we need to realize that true happiness is not found in earthly things.
But we also need to realize that being too comfortable does tend to cause Christians to get lazy, and sometimes causes us to depend less and less on God, while struggles and tribulations usually leads Christians to become stronger and mature. Not to mention that poverty has been volunteerily been taken up by some in order to draw closer to God, which fasting is based on the same principle. The Saints of the Church have always recognized struggling in life does merit crowns in Heaven.
But is it a sin to enjoy life? No, as long as we put everything in the right perspective, God first.