Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’
Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’
Jesus said: What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?
It has taken many thousands of years for humanity to evolve the societal structures that thrive in the most affluent areas of the world. Those structures tend to be founded on the Darwinian theory of evolution summed up in the phrase: ‘survival of the fittest’. This evolutionary theory tells us that the continued existence of an organism is dependent upon its ability to adapt to the environment in which it exists. That which is not fit enough to adapt becomes extinct. Whilst the notion of the ‘survival of the fittest’ seems to be invested with a laudable logic, it does have one serious flaw … it is rooted in a mortal wisdom that is weak because it ignores the omnipresence and the omnipotence of the divine … of God.
Human beings have created a world in which there is no room for failure, that is material failure. A successful human being has developed into one whose primary ambition is to be the richest, the strongest, the most powerful, no matter what devastation may be felt by those who are made weaker by the circumstances in which they find themselves. Such ruthlessness feeds the notion that only the fittest can survive. But again, this is a weak argument because it ignores the omnipresence and the omnipotence of the divine … of God.
During Lent we are called to prepare for the great celebration of Easter by living a life of self-sacrifice. Rather than clinging on to the Darwinian notion of the ‘survival of the fittest’, and then fighting to become that ‘perfect’ specimen of ‘fitness’, we would do well to reflect upon the words of Gandhi. He said this: There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need, but not for man’s greed.
Every time we are confronted with any sort of national crisis (real or imagined), and every time we approach those two days in the year when are shops are required to remain closed, we see people ‘panic buying’, that is, we see people grabbing as much as they can for themselves without any thought for sharing the available resources with others. It is this greed and disrespect for our fellow human beings that we should be addressing during Lent.
We live in a world where we cannot claim to be ignorant of the need that damages so many lives, it fills the various news media that bombard us twenty-four hours a day. But, despite the realities that press in upon us, we still cling on to the principle of the ‘survival of the fittest’, we stoke our greed to possess more and more … no matter what the consequences might be for others.
Let us pray that we might set aside our avarice and pride, and that we might love and serve in the self-sacrificial way that was modelled by Jesus. Let us pray that through our selfless generosity we might come to enjoy the eternal life in God’s nearer presence that is promised to all who profess and live out a life of true faith in Jesus Christ.