Who in his right mind would want to deny himself, take up a cross, and lose his life? Yet this is precisely what the followers of Jesus are asked to do. The disciples must forget themselves and their self-interest, while centering their lives on Jesus. One could hardly think of more graphic language to express what Jesus expects of the disciple: unlimited availability to follow him, whatever the cost.

Echoing the words of Jesus, Ignatius hounded Francis Xavier time and again asking: What does it profit you to gain the whole world while losing your soul in the process?

To what extent do I lose myself in the service of others50%? 75%? 100%? Do I embrace life’s joys as well as its sorrows, success as well as failure? Have I truly let go of my self-interest, to live only for Christ?

—Fr. Don Petkash, S.J. is Vice-President for Mission and Identity and superior of the Jesuit community at Walsh Jesuit High School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.