Jesus reminds us of something we all know too well, “You will have trouble in the world,” only to reassure us that he has conquered the world. We will be filled with peace even as we face troubles and discouragement. Life isn’t easy, we all know so well. It rarely is.
Last night, my aunt of nearly 10 decades finally surrendered and entered her new life of joy. It was so hard for my cousins to watch my aunt struggling to be set free. But Sadness will give way to peace. Death is a reality that we all face through the people we love. God knows how much we all are so clearly aware of the presence of death as we watch the news. And today, we remember the countless lives sacrificed for all of our freedoms and way of life. Think of all the wars that have been fought throughout the last 200 years, and the millions of lives sacrificed.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death in today’s gospel, a reality that would soon hit them very hard. And He tells them something that had to shock them: “You will abandon me.” Yes, they would abandon him, something they all were so certain they would never do. The crow of the rooster would be Peter’s constant reminder of his betrayal, not to guilt him, but simply to remind him of his wounded humanity. My closest and dearest friend gave me a large metal rooster that sits in my kitchen, and I’m not sure why she gave it to me. But it’s a reminder to me of my own lack of courage in the living out of my discipleship. .
We may abandon Christ in the many ways we sin, but he will never abandon us. It simply is not in God’s nature to abandon us when we have strayed and wandered in self centered directions... when we become WILLFUL rather than WILLING. Willfulness is the crucible of our lives, as our egos become as inflated as a hot air balloon. They look impressive when filled with air, hot air, but once that air seeps out slowly or in a bust, nothing remains but a lifeless shell.
The ego must be deflated and filled with a different kind of air: the breath of the Spirit. The ego is absolutely essential to our identities, giving us our reality, our way of saying “I.” Without our ego we are unbalanced mentally and emotionally. But our egos must be rooted in God, never forgetting who created us and sustains us. A healthy ego is a well grounded and humble ego, an ego that creates saints.
On this day of Memory, let us never forget the men and women whose egos were grounded in self sacrifice. The Spirit of God filled them with the gift of humility and the ability to give life, so that others may have Life. May we remember all the people in our lives, like my beautiful aunt, who taught us the values that guide us and keep us grounded.