WHAT WILL YOU NAME AS THE PRICE OF YOUR LIFE? At some point of our life this question is posed to each of us in a way we cannot avoid. The Lord Jesus repeatedly confronted his disciples with this issue but it was only when he himself met with the immediate prospect of death and actually submitted to it on the cross that they were forced to come to terms with it. That we are here today to hear this question posed to us is due to the fact that after the resurrection and the gift of the Spirit his followers dealt with the urgency of this challenge in the light of faith in the risen Christ.
The sooner we take a deliberate, considered stand on what goal we set for our self as the aim of our existence here on earth, the more meaningful we shall find our life becomes. Unless that choice conforms to the most fundamental and noblest aspirations of our nature, before long we shall find our self confronted with the same question once again. Experience reveals to those who reflect and have eyes to see that no earthly success or achievement bestows satisfaction for long. Only to the extent that the goal attained includes some value that transcends the finite limits of this material universe does it continue to gratify our aspiration for happiness and fulfillment.
Jesus, in this address to his followers, not only poses this challenge of confronting squarely the value we set on our life; he also indicates the condition for meeting this challenge successfully. The way to attain to the fullness of life that we restlessly strive after is to give our self to him knowing that belonging to him means to suffer, even to lose our life in this world, one way or another. We must learn, in other words, that there is a kind of happiness that this world does not understand and cannot appreciate. It is the fruit of life in the Spirit, bestowed on us through the cross of Jesus. It consists in a communion with the Father through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.
The saint whose memory we commemorate at this Eucharist today, St. Clare of Assisi, like her companion St. Francis, illustrates this truth in practice. One of the most striking features of her life as well as that of her inseparable friend, Francis, is the cheerful joy and humanity that radiated from her and those whom she formed in the way of life that was a taking up of the cross of Jesus. She had every advantage the world of her time and place could offer: youth, beauty, intelligence, wealth and influence. But she early came to see clearly their limits and looking beyond their false promise saw that the value of her life was not to be measured by any of these things or all of them together.
God alone in Jesus the Savior is the price St. Clare and St. Francis set on their life. Today as we are confronted with our Lord's question "WHAT WILL YOU NAME AS THE PRICE OF YOUR LIFE?" we are invited to make the same choice. At this Eucharist we are offered the answer to this query in the most personal possible manner as we receive the risen Lord Jesus into the depths of our heart. May we find in this sacrament the one answer that will always prove true and never fail to fulfill its promise: life in Christ Jesus, our Savior and our God.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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