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Quid Pro Quo

Any film fans out there might remember a famous scene in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ when a young FBI agent is trying to get the notorious criminal mastermind Hannibal Lector to help her catch a serial killer. He keeps asking her for a ‘quid pro quo’. This is a Latin expression that literally means ‘something for something’. If we want to get something for ourselves, we have to be prepared to give something first.

This weekend’s readings run along a similar theme. In the First Reading, the Prophet Elisha rewards a woman who does him a good turn by giving her what she wants most in the whole world. In our Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that the reward God wants to give us is nothing less than everlasting life. But, of course, we do have to be prepared to give something before we can expect to receive benefits like these. In our Gospel Reading, Jesus asks for nothing less than total commitment. He insists that anyone who prefers father or mother, son or daughter—or even their own life—to following him is not worthy of him. The thing we have to remember about God is that he’s never really looking for a traditional quid pro quo from us. He’s actually not interested in taking anything for himself. Even when he asks us to give, he’s far more concerned with our welfare than he is with his own. Very often, we can find that virtue really is its own reward. We should never hesitate to give Jesus whatever he seems to be asking for, because the only thing he really wants is to ensure that we have life, and have it to the full.

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