In the Gospel we heard Jesus speaking clearly on this subject: “What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” (Mt 16:26). In this way we are led to consider that the true value of human life is measured not merely in terms of material goods and transient interests, because it is not material goods that quench the profound thirst for meaning and happiness in the heart of every person. This is why Jesus does not hesitate to propose to his disciples the “narrow” path of holiness: “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (16:25). And he resolutely repeats to us this morning: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (16:24). Without doubt, this is hard language, difficult to accept and put into practice, but the testimony of the saints assures us that it is possible for all who trust and entrust themselves to Christ. Their example encourages those who call themselves Christian to be credible, that is, consistent with the principles and the faith that they profess. It is not enough to appear good and honest: one must truly be so. And the good and honest person is one who does not obscure God’s light with his own ego, does not put himself forward, but allows God to shine through.
Would it be completely unreasonable to consider holiness as a necessary quality in our political leaders? Probably. But former President George W. Bush gives us hope. Before folks go ballistic let me say that I have never been a great fan of the Bushes and I am not saying that he is a saint. However, his silence since retirement in the midst of unrelenting criticism from his successor is certainly a mark of holiness. "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." Some would say that President Bush is not reviled on account of Jesus but on account of bad policies and that he is not reviled falsely. Perhaps so. But restraint out of consideration for those who criticize you is assuredly an example of political virtue and sets a good example for other former presidents and all politicians. It is political suicide but “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”.