MY LOSS IS MY GAIN. Each passing day greets us with a kind of stock taking. As evening falls, a thinking mind ponders on the activities of the day. He rejoices on the successes recorded. So it is also with seasons coming and going. We do not only record successes, we also experience a loss, a defeat or even a failure once in a while.

There has never been a linear progression of success and conquest. Sometimes the graph ebbs. When that is the case, we have the tendency to lie down on the floor in regret.  We have our eyes and mind glued on the failure or loss that we find it difficult to move ahead. The consequence is loss of physical, spiritual and psychological energy. We lose interest in what we like doing. This can result to a trauma changing the voice of the soul either momentarily or perpetually. It can lead to severe depression. The pain of loss can be killing.

But the other side of this reality of loss can be lifesaving. My loss can be healing. It is part of growth and development to lose something. Something must go out of us. Something in us must die. We must leave some things behind for us to move ahead. There is no excess luggage to heaven. We must take only what we need. The rest must be left behind. If that is not the case, the journey will surely become difficult. Sometimes, this loss comes against our will. It marches on the brake of our life vehicle. It helps us to pause for a while, or even stop with a jerk, have a rethink and plan better ahead. Sometimes our loss can come with bruises. The pain can be excruciating. Then we ask ourselves, what is God telling us at that point in time? A painful time of loss can also be a locus of revelation. The problem is that we waste time having our eyes and mind glued on the irreversible loss that we have no time to ask God to speak to our soul at that moment. Only when we do this can we really profit of that time as a Kairos, a moment marked by the presence and grace of God. At this point in time, my loss becomes a moment of encounter with God, a moment of self-emptying that God might fill me, that I may participate more fully in the life of God.

The Bible tells us that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will remain only a single seed (Jn12:24). Today we are presented with two models in this game of loss and gain. In the first reading, Abraham risked the loss of his son Isaac that he might please God. In the Gospel reading, it is God himself who risked his son that he might gain back the world. A uniting point of the two readings is not just risking the loss of their sons and the gain in view, but most especially the qualifying adjective. It is in Greek monogenes - the only begotten son. The risk of this monogenes is an absolute one indeed as there is no replacement. That shows the extent faith and love can go when the need arises. Abraham did not care losing his son for he knows that his son after all is a gift from God. He believed that God can give him another son in place of Isaac. It also shows that nothing can come in-between him and God.  God risked his son out of the love he has for the world. Christ died for us even while we are still sinners that we might live.

Are you aiming higher? Do you have a goal? Do you want to grow? Then think of it. Be ready to leave some things behind. You must say no to certain things. This is called discipline – knowing what to do and what to avoid and acting accordingly. In this season of Lent, Stations of the Cross and fasting are not enough. They must bear the fruits of discipline. If we do not want to lose something, nature has a way of either breaking us or snatching it from us. When that is the case, we must be grateful to God. God speaks to us through this means. In a moment of loss, we have this to say, "speak Lord for your servant is listening."

Have you ever come to think of it that Jesus fell three times on the way to Golgotha? He did not sleep there and refuse to move. He knew where he was going. Even though it was a place of crucifixion, he knew that the journey stretched beyond Golgotha to the joy of Easter. The disappointment of the falls did not weigh him down. At each point in time, he picked up not only the wood of the cross but also his broken self and head to the place of skull. A friend recently counseled me using a beautiful imagery of a race. According to her, if you break your leg, bandage it immediately and keep racing to the finish. Do not say yes to defeat. It is left for us as Christians to be schooled in the Lenten observances and be skilled in converting our painful experiences to a spiritual exercise, as well as seeing our loss as a gain. At each point of loss, we are faced with an option, lose your peace and health or gain your peace and acquire inner joy. Some losses are irreversible. When that is the case, dying in installment will not solve any problem.  Instead we have to let go and gain from it. It is a time to encounter God in a special way and listen to his heartbeat. It is a time to know that what you have lost is not necessary for your survival. It is a time to know how strong you are without those things. It is a time of practicing letting go and being filled with inner peace and joy. O what a bountiful gain from our loss if only we will pause, listen so as to discover this invaluable treasure.

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