LEARN TO LOSE
The saying is recorded in all the Gospels and gets repeated up to 6 times: «Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it». Jesus isn’t talking about a religious theme. He’s sharing with his disciples what is the true strength of living.
The saying is expressed is a paradoxical and provocative way. There are two very different ways of directing our life: One leads to salvation, the other to destruction. Jesus invites everyone to follow the path that seems harder and less attractive, since this one leads us to definitive salvation.
The first path consists of holding onto life, living exclusively for oneself: making the «I» the final reason and supreme objective of existence. This manner of living – always seeking my own gain or advantage -leads me to destruction.
The second path consists of knowing how to lose, living as Jesus does, open to the final objective of the Father’s humanizing project: knowing how to renounce my own security or profit, seeking not just my own welfare but also that of others. This generous way of living leads us to our salvation.
Jesus is speaking out of his faith in a Saving God, but his words are a serious warning for all. What future awaits a divided and fragmented humanity, where the economic powers seek their own benefit; countries, their own welfare; individuals, their own interests?
The logic that is guiding the path of the world at these moments is irrational. We peoples and individuals are falling little by little into the slavery of «always having more». Having everything ends up being too little to satisfy us. In order to live well, we need ever more productivity, more consumption, more material wellbeing, more power over others.
We seek wellbeing insatiably, but aren’t we constantly dehumanizing ourselves a little bit more? We seek to «progress» all the time, but what kind of progress leads us to abandon millions of fellow human beings to misery, hunger, malnutrition? How many years can we enjoy our own welfare by closing our borders to the hungry and those who come among us to seek refuge from so many wars?
If the privileged countries only seek to «save» our level of wellbeing, if we don’t want to lose our economic potential, we will never take steps toward a worldwide solidarity. But we shouldn’t deceive ourselves. The world will be all the more insecure and inhabitable for everyone, including ourselves. In order to save human life in the world, we need to learn to lose.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf