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Best on the Block

What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?
Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27

Sermon Week Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 16:26

A funny thing happened several years ago in New York City: five new pizza parlors with five different owners opened in the same block. It soon became apparent that there wasn't nearly enough business in the neighborhood to support all five, so the competition to survive became fierce. As part of his campaign to attract customers, one of the owners put up a sign which read: "Ours is the best pizza in the city." The others quickly followed his lead. "Ours is the best pizza in the state," said the second owner's sign. The third owner's read: "Ours is the best pizza in the country." Not to be outdone, the fourth owner erected a sign boasting, "Ours is the best pizza in the world." Finally, the fifth owner's sign went up. The clear winner, it read ...

"Ours is the pizza best on the block."

No doubt about it, the competitive spirit was alive and well in that neighborhood.

Who is a winner, and why? In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus gives us His answer. Hear the Word of the Lord!

"What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?" (Mt. 16:26).

Being a winner has nothing to do with the size of your house, or your boat, or your investment portfolio, or your bank account, or your earnings selling pizza. Instead, Jesus is telling us in today's Gospel Lesson that being a winner depends on your day-in and day-out willingness to renounce yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. "For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it," Jesus tells us. "But anyone who loses it for My sake will find it" (Mt. 16:25). Strange, isn't it, to hear Jesus identifying a real winner as a loser? Funny, until we begin to relate to this Christian paradox in our own life experience.

Early in the week, the pastor of a big city church sat down to prepare his next Sunday's sermon. But he kept coming up dry, and he decided to go out for a walk. He brought [...]

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