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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

You Can Lose Your Soul

Have you ever been terrified? I suppose we have all had scary experiences in our lives as children and as adults. I remember being terrified of some of my teachers as a child. I’ve had some terrifying experiences on planes over the years. I’ve been in terrifying parts of the world. And I will never forget having a shotgun held to my head in a robbery, by a fidgety drug addict who was shaking so much from withdrawals I was afraid he would pull the trigger by mistake.

I know what it means to be terrified. I have been terrified.

Today’s difficult teaching is about knowing when to be terrified and what to be terrified of. Now, you may be thinking, but I thought the thing Jesus said more than anything else was, “Do not be afraid.” This is true, but as always, context matters. When Jesus said do not be afraid these words were usually accompanied by words or inference to the effect of “You don’t need to be afraid because I am with you.” But if we are not with him, that changes everything.

Now let’s take a look at today’s difficult teaching.

“What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

It is from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 8, verse 36.

The revelation we should be ever mindful of here is the fact that you can lose your soul. You can lose your soul. It’s worth reflecting on that from time to time. More than that, I think it’s worthy of deep meditation. It’s easy to forget in this world so full of distractions and seductions. And it is a mistake to forget this.

You can lose your soul. This reality should terrify us, and we should welcome the terror, because it exists to protect us from experiencing what the terror represents.

Knowing when to be afraid is common sense; knowing what to be afraid of is wisdom. We should be more afraid of losing our souls that falling of a ten-thousand-foot cliff. And the truth is, metaphorically, spiritually, we live our lives tippy toeing along the very edge of a ten-thousand-foot cliff.

Every decision matters. In a culture that is constantly attempting to deny and diminish personal responsibility, the Gospel reminds us time and time again, that personal responsibility is central to the human experience.

Go gently about this world. Life should be lived carefully, not recklessly. We should be careful with each other. People are fragile and wounded, be gentle and thoughtful. To live life to the fullest is to live life thoughtfully.

Matthew Kelly

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