Catholic Corner - The Benefits of Belief
Many people assume “true” Christianity is wholly and utterly a concern for others - not oneself and is characterized by love and pity even to an unreasonable extent. Often, to illustrate this, Jesus’ command to the rich young man (“Go, sell all you have, give it to the poor, and then come follow me”) is trotted out to support the notion that the gospel is a sort of a dreary concern for others only. It appears that Christianity is, in Ted Turner’s phrase, “a religion of losers.”
Worse still is the contrast between this supposed goal of pure concern for others and the stark fact that pure concern for others is rare among Christians. Not only does Christianity apparently have an ideal of depressing and weary rejection of personal happiness, it also has a near zero batting average in achieving the supposed ideal. Christians, according to this reckoning, try to be losers but merely succeed at being hypocrites. In reality Jesus does not only call us for others concerns, but to seek our own good as well.
A few verses later after the episode of the rich young man, the following exchange takes place: Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me, will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Mat 19:27-29) Peter does not repudiate the demand for self-denial. Indeed, he confirms it (“We have left everything and followed you”).
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