Forgiveness requires Follow Through

“when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it… but when the wicked turn away from their wickedness and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life”.[1]

Forgiveness is a familiar theme.  Indeed, the whole message of the Gospel is that the Church is a Kingdom of second chances: you can’t be born into it, you can’t work your way into it, and none of us deserve to be here – all of us are forgiven by the free gift of God, and our God-given mission is to invite others to receive that gift as well.

Along with that, the central point holding the entire Christian understanding of forgiveness together is an idea so simple that many of us learned to recite it by heart as youngsters: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” 

The prayer that Christ himself taught us has us ask God to forgive us to the extent that we are people willing to forgive others.  The point is simple and clear: it does no good for the human soul to “collect up” – as it were – the grace and forgiveness of God, if we refuse to let go of the past hurts and wrongs and disappointments that crowd out the abundant, healed life that God wills for those who follow him.

It’s like an old guy who smoked a pack-a-day his whole life and whose lungs have given out.  Sure, the doctor has an endless supply of pure oxygen that can flow in as breath of fresh air, giving a new lease on life, with all the renewed energy and joy that comes from that weight on the chest being removed.  …but, you can’t have – you can’t receive – that life-giving supply of fresh air while you’re standing out by the door puffing on your beloved cigarette.  In fact, what would happen if that rich, life-giving, pure oxygen came into contact with that slow-smouldering end of your smoke?

The two are incompatible.  You try to hold on to both, and you end up in an awful state.

The same is true with forgiveness – we simply cannot fully receive the mercy of God for our failings while we refuse to let go of the anger, hurt, shame, and disappointment caused by the failings of others.  The two are simply incompatible.

“Fine.  I’m sorry.  Can I go now?”

You have to forgive others for your soul to be in a state to receive forgiveness.  Now we could leave it there and call it a day, but the reality is that it’s not enough to just say “I forgive you”.  We have to mean it.  We have to follow through.

So, the other day, two very energetic children are sitting in the living room after school; one is building a circuit, the other is dressing up Barbies.  All is going well until someone starts screaming… somehow – though apparently no one started it – a wire got pulled out of the circuit that was being built, and a doll was thrown into the corner behind the chair, and a certain young electrician is yelling that his sister needs to go away and can never come back to the living room ever again because she ruins everything ever.

Once things calm down, and the Barbie has been rescued, you know what happens next: it’s time for everyone to say they’re sorry.

But you know yourself: how do you think that goes?  Do the kids sit and reflect deeply for a few minutes on their actions before saying, unprompted, “yes, I realize that I over-reacted, and that we were really both at fault, but I should have been the bigger person and walked away instead of yelling and throwing… will you please forgive me?”

Ha! No… that’s not how it goes.  Both kids sit there, arms folded, pouts on their face, not looking at each other.  One grunts out “I’m sorry”.  The other huffs and almost yells “FINE.  I’m sorry too, ok?  Can I go now?” 

Here’s the thing – it’s probably been a while since you’ve thrown your sister’s Barbies (at least I hope so), but adults and kids really aren’t that different when it comes to offering forgiveness.

Sure, we say the words; but do we follow through?  We say “it’s ok, don’t worry about it”, but do we really lay down the hurt and the anger?  Do we really stop worrying about it?

Actions vs. Intentions

In our Gospel lesson today (Matthew 21:28-31), Jesus tells us a parable about how God sees and understands human actions versus human intentions.

Two sons are with their father who runs the family farm.  The dad tells them that there’s chores to be done that day.  The first son gets huffy and puffy, talks back, says “no way, I’m not doing it; I don’t care what you say, I’m not listening to you”, and stomps away.  The other son – I picture him with a big grin on his face – says, “oh, don’t worry dad, I’m the good son… I’ll get the chores done”, and goes on his way.

But what happens?  The guy who blew up and stormed off calms down, comes to his senses, and goes to the field and does what needs to be done, while the one who actually said he would do it ends up over in his friends’ basement playing Xbox… or, you know, whatever teenagers did back then.

The point Jesus makes is this: the words don’t matter without the actions to follow through.  The first son – though he disobeyed and broke one of the commandments in the process – was the one who actually did his Father’s will. 

And the same is true with forgiveness.  Saying you forgive someone really doesn’t matter a whole lot if you’re going to walk away with anger, pain, hurt, and bitterness in your heart.  Like that second son, the words were empty, they were cheap, and at the end of the day, what did they accomplish?  The work didn’t get done, but worse than that, those empty words strained the relationship between that son and his father; because of those empty words, that son now has to make excuses, and sooner or later, he’s stuck in a web of lies to maintain that grinning outward façade, while inside he’s weighed down with anxiety and the deep reality that he knows his own word is worthless.

Meanwhile, sure it wasn’t pretty when the first guy blew up, said what shouldn’t be said, and stomped away.  But once the heat of the moment had passed, he settled down, came to his senses, and did what needed to be done.  That loving, merciful father ended the day pleased with him in spite of the blow-up along the way, because the work was done, the trust was restored, and that son learned something along the way about obedience.

The weight of sin

As a people of second chances, as those whose own ability to receive forgiveness depends on our willingness to let go of the pain caused by others, we have to be willing to follow through.

We come to the Lord for forgiveness, and he tells us to lay down the heavy burdens that we’ve been carrying.  But, so often, we lay them down, but don’t undo the straps that held them on; to quote the psalms, we don’t cut those cords of death that entangle us.

Sure, we laid them down.  We say the words: “have mercy upon us most merciful Father…”, but then when the time comes to leave, we drag those burdens back home with us like a weight attached to our ankles.

The words were empty.  The words were cheap. 

The one who does the will of the Father is the one who follows through; the one who lays down their burdens – and leaves them there; the one who acknowledges and names the real hurt and pain caused by others, but can then, by the grace of God, let it go, and follow through with forgiveness.  Even if, sometimes, like that first son, we’ve spoken our mind and stomped off, it’s better we do that and then truly forgive than fall into the trap of saying the right words while carrying the bitterness in our hearts.

If we do that, we’re like the old smoker, puffing on a cigarette with a bottle of oxygen waiting at our feet. 

Or, as we read this morning: if the righteous, those who call upon the name of the Lord, the scribes and teachers of the Law, those who say the right words, commit iniquity, they shall die; they will meet destruction.

But if the wicked, no matter what they’ve done, even the tax collectors and prostitutes don’t just say the words, but follow through and do what is lawful and right, the Lord says it is those who enter the Kingdom.

Lets leave here this morning with our burdens left here before the Cross. Lets leave here this morning without the cords of death around our ankles, tying us to, and holding us back with past hurt and pain. 

And may God give us the grace to be people who follow through.  Amen.


[1] Ezekiel 18:26-27

…But that’s not the way it’s been done!

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person.
…even to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a person.
it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.                                                Matthew 15:11, 20.

As I go about my days meeting people around town, chatting with them about what’s going on in their lives, looking for the little opportunities God gives to speak a word of truth or hope, it’s surprising to note just how many are shocked – really shocked – to hear me, a priest, tell them that Christianity really isn’t about following rules.

It usually starts as we’re talking about the realities of life, the ups and downs, the real anger or sadness or disappointments we all feel.  Then, the person lets a little word slip – you know, the sort of word you wouldn’t say to a priest – and then they catch themselves, turn red, look away, and apologize.  …And I chuckle, say “don’t worry, I know those words too; go on, what were you saying?”.

Or, sometimes we get talking about life, and someone talks about the bad thing they did to get back at someone, and quickly looks up and follows with “oh, I’m really going to hell, aren’t I?”… to which I usually respond, “you know, that isn’t for me to decide, but confession is good for the soul”. 

An Exercise in Missing the Point

While the churches and Sunday School classes of past generations were certainly fuller, we know God doesn’t look at the outward appearance, but instead tests a tree by its fruit.  And, hard as it is to admit, the fruit of those full pews is a culture that was taught traditions, rules, and good manners instead of a life-changing faith that carries us through the ups and downs of life.

One way or another, and in spite of the good work done by many faithful people, we’ve gotten to a place where the 95% of people who aren’t in church this morning think that we’re here to congratulate ourselves on being people who engage in the right activities and hang out with the right friends; on being people who are seen and not heard; on being people content to live a quiet, perfect, traditional life.

Unfair and incorrect as it is, if you ask anyone not here today what Christianity is all about – even if you ask some on our parish list who we only see at Christmas — you’ll hear “it’s about being good and following the rules or you’ll go to hell”.  And then, more often than not, I’ll hear some version of why they can’t go to church because they’re a sinner:  it starts with a joke like “oh, if I showed up the roof would fall in”, or “I’d be struck down if I walked in”.  But, under that chuckle lies the twisted version of the Gospel that they picked up along the way: church is for good people who did the right things.

That, for those outside these walls, is the lesson that they and their parents took home from Sunday School years ago.

The heartbreaking thing, though, is that they literally couldn’t be more wrong.

But… that’s not the way it’s been done!

In the Gospel today, continuing our readings through Matthew 14 and 15, we see Jesus once again out teaching and healing the people.  And we’ve got to remember – because it’s a huge point – that he’s decidedly not doing this in the temple, the place where you can only go if you’re ceremonially clean and ritually pure; he’s not even doing this in the synagogue, where all the good, righteous, upstanding citizens gather to pray and hear the scriptures.  No, the Son of God Himself is out in the countryside with the farmers and the butchers and the salty fishermen. God Himself is out speaking face-to-face with those who haven’t dared to step foot into a religious building except for a wedding or funeral; God Himself is answering the calls of those outcast foreigners who would never be welcome; God Himself is found ministering to those who his own ministers think are just too far gone to be worth their time.

And here, as word travels that Jesus fed the crowd on the other side of the lake, as word travels that Jesus is offering forgiveness and healing to those who grab at the hem of his cloak, or to those who, like dogs at the table, are longing for even just a crumb of God’s blessing; here, on the outskirts of that crowd, we see the familiar faces of the good old religious people, those who were raised with the right teachers, those who know the commandments – and have memorized every possible exception to weasel themselves out of keeping them. 

Here, on the outskirts of this great crowd being forgiven, being healed, being ministered to by God Himself, the religious people are shocked.  It’s not the healings or the forgiveness of sins, or the poor, broken people who are being lifted up and given a second chance that shocks them.  No. ‘Can you believe it? It’s absolutely scandalous,’ they say.  Jesus’ followers ate bread without the ritual pouring of water from a cup!  ‘Quick!  Call the elders!’

Now the Jewish purity rules required every good, religious person to ceremonially pour water over their hands any time they were going to eat a meal containing bread; there was really no excuse as long as you were within 4 miles of a water source.[1]

“Well, that’s it”, I imagine these on-lookers mumble to themselves.  “It’s bad enough this man pays these people any attention at all – but look, his own followers don’t even keep the good, old rules our parents and teachers taught us.”  I imagine they whisper amongst themselves, until one of them, totally indignant that a religious teacher (let alone God Himself) could be so careless about the old traditions, finally speaks up.

…and the response from Jesus is earth-shattering.

It is not what goes in that defiles a person.
…even to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a person.
it is what comes out that defiles.        

All the good practices, all the rule-keeping, all the righteous living in the world doesn’t make you pure or impure, righteous or unrighteous. 

No, to really make the point, Jesus goes even further in verse 17: these outward signs of religion are like food.  Yeah, maybe it’s great when it enters the mouth but, Jesus says, “it goes from there to the stomach, and from there straight to the sewer”. 

No, all the spiritual or religious practices in the world, by themselves, purify you as much as what you find in the sewer.  “What defiles you”, Jesus says, “is what proceeds out from the heart.”  Verse 19: all the ritual purity, all the good manners, all the charity, all the right living and good citizenship in the world is worthless if, in our hearts, we find evil intentions, hatred, revenge, lust in all of its forms, lies or half-truths, gossip meant to undermine or put down another, or the hoarding of money or food or possessions while others go without.[2] 

You can go to church every day, you can wear your Bible out, you can write a cheque every week, you can wear down the floor by your bed from kneeling to pray but, Jesus says, if you think those outward practices, by themselves, are going to make you pure, or righteous, or holy, then you’ve totally missed the point.

Holiness starts with the heart.

God’s Law, following God’s commandments, doesn’t make us holy.

No, it’s the opposite.  We’re made holy when we cry out to God for help, when we accept that help, that healing, and that forgiveness. 

And then it’s that holiness, that grace, that gift from God that empowers us from within to try and live, day by day, as God commands.  And it’s that same gift, that same grace, that invites us to acknowledge when we fall short, to own up to our mistakes, and like a crippled beggar being lifted up in Jesus’ name, to accept another chance for the gift of holiness within to spill out into a holy life.

…and yet, the message learned by the world around us, perhaps even the message we hear whispered inside our own heads from time to time, is that “I’m not holy enough to go to church.”  “I’m not good enough to be a church person… and you wouldn’t want someone like me anyway”.

Jesus doesn’t stand on the outskirts with the Pharisees.  No.  Jesus, God Himself, is in the middle of the broken, tired, lonely, guilty, unclean crowd, not to look down his nose, and certainly not to bless their mess, but to lift them up, to call them up higher, to replace the heart of stone with a heart of flesh, to put the gift of holiness, of forgiveness, into those weak hearts so the gift of holiness may seep outward into a changed life.  It just doesn’t work the other way; to paraphrase the Lord, outward practices with a heart of stone are as valuable as last night’s steak dinner once it’s in the sewer.

There’s work to be done.

The world around us – and, perhaps, many of us – learned it backwards.  For generations Sunday School taught manners and good behaviour first, in the hopes that faith, holiness, and heaven would follow, if only we followed the rules to make God happy.  That’s what the Pharisees taught.

The good news – the message each of us is supposed to bring to the world – is that none of us keep God’s Law, none of us live as we ought.  Our message for the world is that none of us are good enough, and none of us ever will be.  None of us are worthy to come in those doors.  None of us has any right to approach the Lord’s Table.  None of us has any right to stand and boldly claim that God is ‘our’ Father.

But, though we’re unworthy, God Himself came to be among us; God Himself reaches out and, if we go against everything the world tells us and simply acknowledge that we don’t have it all together, that we can’t do it on our own, God’s own gift of holiness begins to transform us – not from the outside,[3] but from the inside out, as that spark of holiness within urges us to live as God commands as we start to follow Christ.

And this is crucial. 

I speak to people every week who tell me that they can’t come because they’re not good enough.  But that’s only half right.  No, they’re not good enough to be here.  No, you’re not good enough to be here.  No, I’m certainly not good enough to stand here and minister in the name of God.  But that’s the point.  The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.  We’re here because we’ll never be good enough on our own to stand before a righteous God.  We’re here because Jesus reaches out and calls us in, not because the work in our lives is done, but because we acknowledge, in every service, that we have fallen short, that we have done and left undone, that we have missed the mark in thought, word, and deed.  None of us deserve to be here; but God reached out to meet us where we were, washed us, clothed us, and invited us not to gather up crumbs like a dog, but to sit at the table as a son or daughter.

But most importantly, Jesus still goes out to meet the broken, tired, lonely, dirty, unclean world.  It’s not his human body that’s sent to do that work.  No, it’s us, His Body the Church, that is sent with that earth-shattering message: no, you’re not good enough; none of us are good enough, and no rules or practices will ever get us there on our own.  But come, unworthy as we are, and know the healing, the mercy, and forgiveness of being transformed from the inside out.

That’s our message.  And like those first followers, we have to get off the sidelines and get our hands dirty.  After all, dirty hands don’t defile you.  God looks at what’s in the heart.


[1] This comes from the Halakha.  The custom was known as mayim rishonim (first waters).  Maimonides codified the detailed rules about seeking water from up to 4 miles in the direction of travel, or 1 mile in the opposite direction.

[2] It’s well established that “theft” in the Old Covenant isn’t limited to the taking of another’s property but includes the omission of oblations and alms.  God is robbed when the tithe isn’t presented; the poor are robbed when the gleanings from the edges of the field aren’t left for them.

[3] With apologies to any Lutherans loving Luther’s supposed/mythical “snow covered dung” analogy.  This puts me at a middle ground between both hard-line imputed and infused righteousness.

“We have sinned” — sin, slavery, and individualism.

…that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.  Romans 6:6

What does it mean to be enslaved to something?

In a week filled with talk of racial injustice, of the long-term effects of oppression and calls to re-evaluate how we understand our history, it’s important that we step back from hot-button commentaries on statues or Aunt Jemima pancake syrup and think for a moment on the bigger issues that are under the surface.  This is important not because of politics – really, I think the last thing we need is a politically-motivated church; it’s important because our job, you and me together, is to be Christ’s voice of hope and forgiveness and mercy right here, close to home.  How can any of us offer hope, or reach out in mercy, or even attempt to guide our children’s understanding of the world around them, if our understanding is built on nothing more than the talking heads on TV, and whatever article happens to have the most likes, shares, or angry faces online.

Big problems require big solutions.  And in a world set on quick and easy solutions, we’re not going to find any lasting answers unless we step back and think before we speak, or comment, or like and share.

Slaves to Sin?

Freedom from oppression is one of the key themes of God’s work from Genesis to Revelation.  And, as much as it may make us uncomfortable, slavery is a key idea in St. Paul’s message of the Gospel; the language is familiar: we are slaves to sin. And this message really has two goals: that we would understand the world’s predicament, and, from there, we would understand the sort of freedom offered to us by Jesus.

But if we step back from the noise of current events, we’ll find one of our issues, even for preachers and clergy, is that we love to talk before we’ve listened.  The Apostle Paul says we were slaves to sin.  But before we can make any sense of that, we have to first stop and make sure we understand what is really meant by those key words: sin, and slaves.

Sin: it’s bigger than you.

We live in a world that is entirely built around the individual: my hopes, my dreams, my freedom, my work, my earnings, my responsibility, my rights.  And, as we’ve built this world all about me, we’ve come to define sin the same way: the individual things I’ve done and choices I’ve made that have directly hurt someone else.  It’s a definition of sin that protects me: I can sleep easy at night because I haven’t murdered anyone, I haven’t actually had an affair with anyone, so it’s all good.  I don’t need a saviour today; I have nothing to confess, because I haven’t purposefully hurt another individual today.

But that’s not what scripture means by sin.  That’s an awful individualistic lie.

I wish sin was defined that way, because it lets us off the hook; but it isn’t.  We made that up.

“Sins” aren’t boxes, individual actions, to avoid checking off the list each day.  Sin is an archery term.  It means “missing the mark”.  It’s not about individual things done or left undone; sin isn’t even just about things done on purpose, or things done by yourself.  Sin is what God calls anything that isn’t a bullseye.  This isn’t horseshoes and it isn’t hand grenades: almost living a perfect life is sin.  That’s why scripture can say “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.  The hasn’t been and there will not be a day I can pat myself on the back and say “I don’t need a saviour today”; there has not been and there will not be a day when I – my decisions, my choices, and the unintended consequences of my actions or my silence in the world around me – haven’t fallen short of the glory of God. 

We are enslaved by sin.

And, lest we slip back into our individualistic view of the world, this “missing the mark” isn’t just about me.  We do not sing “O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the Alex.”  …or the Kristina, or the Ruth, or the Theo.  We did not sing this morning “the sacrificial Lamb who saves the ‘me’ from sin”.

We’re not just talking about the individual things you or I did on purpose to hurt someone else. We’re not even talking about the sins of a group of individuals. 

Sin, falling short of the target, is not just individual, but corporate; God sees sin when our relationships, our politics, our laws, our marketplace, our investments, our pension plans fall short of the glory of God, fall short of God’s will for how we will live in the Kingdom of God.

Sin is – pardon my use of a word you’ve heard in the news – systemic.

A network, a system of which you or I might be the tiniest of insignificant parts, but which, in spite of the progress made, in spite of the work being done, in spite of choosing only the necessary evils that do the least harm, nevertheless misses the bullseye.  Nevertheless it’s sinful: it falls short of the glory of God. 

We have to put aside the old progressive lie that we can pat ourselves on the back as a society, because there has not been and there will not be a day when the Lamb did not have to be slain for the sins of our world. 

We have to acknowledge – foundationally – that, short of the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, our individual and corporate efforts will never be good enough to pay the price of a world that not only falls short, but isn’t even aiming at the target that is the Kingdom of God.

And this is hard for those on all sides of the current debates to hear: but if the sins aren’t just individual, purposeful actions, then the solutions can’t be personal empowerment.  If the focus on me and my rights is part of the problem, then more individuals fighting for more individual rights can never be part of any ultimate or lasting solution.

There will never be a day that me or you haven’t fallen short, and no amount of rights or empowerment can change that.  But that doesn’t take us off the hook.  Rather, that is the hook: we have to follow Jesus.  Every day, every day, I have to acknowledge where I’ve fallen short, and more than that, I have to look at the world around me and acknowledge where we have fallen short. 

Not to talk our way out of it, not to congratulate ourselves for doing better than yesterday, but to look around, acknowledge the mess, and say all we can say: “Lord, have mercy”, and “Lord, let me take up my cross and follow you.”… and then do it.

And that’s where things change: so many of the voices we hear today would either have us excuse ourselves (“I’m not a racist; I’ve always treated people fairly”) or else attempt to carry the entire weight of the world on our own shoulders.

Like an addict in recovery, we cannot escape this system by ourselves; we need a higher power.  The weight of the world would crush us; but if we die to self, die to sin, and cling to Christ’s death and resurrection, we’re not released from the burden, but we find that, sharing our load with him and one another, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.

Enslaved to sin.

You were slaves to sin, Paul writes.  And if there’s one thing our modern, individualistic minds get wrong about slavery, it’s how all-encompassing it is.

We want to believe that we can make good choices, clean up our act, and be masters of our own destiny.  But that’s this world’s biggest lie.  That would be true, we could make our own bed to lie in, if we were free. But we’re not.

No, it’s not fair. Slavery isn’t fair.

In Genesis, Abraham has two sons.  One born to a free woman, one born to a slave.  One born with an inheritance, and a land, and a name.  The other born of despair and regret, born indebted to another, with no hope to ever inherit, own, or lay claim to anything in the world around him.

Which of those boys are responsible for how they were born?  Neither.

But here’s the uncomfortable truth that St. Paul wants us to hear: In spite of what we tell ourselves or what the world tells us, none of us is that first boy.  All of us are born enslaved to a world of sin.  All of us are born into a system of corporate consequences built up and compounded by every missing of the mark.

And the slave can clean up their master’s house as much as they want, they can give their life to the cleaning up of that house, but as long as they’re enslaved, it can never be theirs, they can never pass it to their children, their work can’t last. We are born enslaved in this world of sin.

Christ came and paid the ransom for the sins of the world.  Christ paid to emancipate you and me from the slavery to the system of sin we were born in to.

But, once we’re free,  once we’re made free in Jesus, then we are responsible for our own decisions, and not just the things we do on purpose, but for all the ways we take part in the system we ourselves were freed from: we find ourselves called to repent, day in and day out, not just for things we’ve done, but for all the ways we’ve dishonoured that ransom paid; for all the ways we’ve been happy to remain slaves, sweeping the floors and polishing the furniture in the household of sin.  Once we learn to accept that we are sinners in need of a saviour, then we no longer need to cling to the worldly structures around us.  Once my identity is rooted in Christ, I can call it like it is, speak the painful truth, and reach out in mercy with the good news that we all need to surrender, lay down our arms, admit our failings, accept the ransom that was paid in exchange for our pride, and then simply follow with the humility of one dependent on the free gift of God.

Difficult Words

Stepping back from the news headlines, these words from scripture are uncomfortable.  They’re difficult because they go against the arguments on all sides; they’re difficult because they confront the lies of individualism, rights, and personal freedom that our world has built upon.

Our task is to confess our faults and humbly follow Christ.

We don’t need to yell, we don’t need to shout, we don’t need to put up signs.  But we do need to be faithful: to first learn the truth of the Gospel, to accept that all of us fall short every day, and then speak that Gospel truth to a world that is confused and divided.  We need to stop before every comment, before every good post that we share, and ask the question: “is this telling the truth that every day, each and every one of us has fallen short of the glory of God, or does it let someone off the hook, or let us pat ourselves on the back as though we don’t need a saviour?”

Because if it isn’t the truth, it’s a lie.  If we’re not for the truth, then we’re against it, and we’ve allowed ourselves to be enslaved by sin.

“Jesus said, “do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword… and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. 

Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worth of me.  Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

What can we say?
Lord have mercy.  Let me take up my cross and follow you.  Amen.