The First will be Last…
The sacrifices we make today will be reflected in our blessings to come:
“But many that are first will be last, and (the) last will be first.” -Mark 10:31, NAB
The message repeated many times in the New Testament is that we must give up everything and follow Christ, if we hope to have greater treasures in Heaven. This verse promises us that those who are last on Earth will be regarded highly in Heaven, and those who were first will be lowly in Heaven.
One look at the lives of many saints shows us that many of them led very difficult lives or made some large sacrifices. We hold them, now, in high regard as saints, but during their lives, they were the opposite. Many faced poverty, persecution, and many gave the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.
St. Maximilian Kolbe spent his last years in a Nazi prison camp and gave his life to save another’s. St. John the Baptist spent his life living in the wilderness, only to lose his head for speaking the truth. St. Padre Pio struggled with the Stigmata, but it seemed to only draw him closer to God. Over and over again, history is filled with saints who faced a number of very difficult struggles.
We are told that we should model our lives after the saints. Now, we will not all be martyrs. We will not necessarily have to face the same struggles. But it is not a difficult life that makes a saint; it is the faithful response that makes the difference. In our lives, whatever trials we may face, our response is what will bring us closer to Heaven.
Society tells us to pursue the riches of this life, while the Church teaches us to seek treasures in Heaven. The world recognizes, and even idolizes, the rich, famous, and powerful. The Church recognizes the pious and giving. We are left with a choice: aspire to be like the rich and famous, or try to model our lives after the saints. The choice is up to us.