Today's Gospel: Mark 8:34–9:1 Always curious about other people's traditions, I've asked a lot of women if they exchange gifts with their husbands on birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. I can't tell you how many times I've heard: "No. Since we each get ourselves whatever we want all year long, there's really nothing left to give." My husband and I are no different. We're not extravagant in our spending, but we never deny ourselves. In fact, in our country it's become completely counter-cultural to deny ourselves anything. Toss in the fact that Amazon delivers within 24 to 48 hours, and we've also become impatient. It's ironic that we then scratch our heads in confusion when our children act entitled, not realizing we're role-modeling this "I want it; I'll get it now" example. Jesus knew about this slippery slope, and warned us about it in Mark 8:34. He knew that if we focus too much on ourselves and our own wants and needs, we'd end up with credit card debt, ten or more pounds we can't ever shed, and a sense of discontentment we just can't shake. That's why He taught us to put others first. When we do, a space opens up within our soul, a space that God fills with grace. If we take it a step further and deny ourselves something, offering it up as a sacrificial prayer for someone else, God pours grace into the soul of that person too. Moreover, when we carry whatever cross we've been given, without complaint or fanfare, we find ourselves on the same path Jesus walked, one that may be difficult, but always leads to deep joy and peace.


When I want something, do I indulge or deny myself?


God, shift my focus from myself to others. Grant me the strength to offer up my crosses, without complaint, using my sacrifice to bless others.
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