Thursday, November 5, 2015

None of us lives for oneself

St. Paul reminds us that “none of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself,” but we all live and die for the Lord.

Jesus tells us the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin. These parables convey a God of insane and irrational love. A simple risk analysis would tell anyone that if you lose one sheep, you should just cut your losses and move on. If you leave the ninety-nine sheep to look for one lost sheep, then you risk losing more sheep to theft or wolves. The rational decision is to forget that one sheep. But Jesus’ parable suggests that God’s love for us is not rational. God rejoices in finding the one lost sheep.

And a simple cost-benefit analysis would tell anyone that the effort in finding one coin is not worth the cost of lighting an expensive candle to look for it and then throwing a mini-celebration with friends and neighbors after finding the coin. No rational person would throw a party for finding one lost coin. The party would cost more than the coin! But God’s love is not rational and goes beyond our human calculus of love. And as Christians we are called to love as irrationally and foolishly as God.

I think that irrational and foolish love is the same kind of love my own mother, a widow and single parent raising three kids, modeled for me. I like to think that it’s the same kind of love I live out as a Jesuit priest and biologist. No matter what our vocation is, if we are leading authentic Christian lives, then our lives will not be our own. Instead, we will live and die for the Lord. We will lead lives of irrational and insane love for one another.