What would it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lose his soul in the process? Mark 8:36
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race. Romans 9:3
But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. Exodus 32:32
Paul and Moses would have given up their souls for much less than the whole world. Merely for their own brethren. But, God rejected their self-denial (or whatever they were trying to do).
Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 (see also Lev. 19:18, Luke 10:27)
In humility, esteem others other above yourself. Philippians 2:3
Didn’t Moses and Paul esteem others above themselves? Or, what?
And, as for St. Francis Xavier, what’s up with him working himself to death, if that is what he did. Isn’t this also the story of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the beloved Little Flower. Didn’t she die young, actually very young, having neglected herself? If these saints loved others as they love themselves, would they want everybody to die of overwork and of neglect of their own physical needs?
St. Therese had tuberculosis if I recall correctly.
It appears that somebody thinks I have broken a rule. On review of the rules, as best as I can figure, somebody takes offense at what I said. So, I will myself answer the questions I pose:
1. St. Francis Xavier was challenged by his teacher with the question “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lose his should in the process?” (This is part of the original post on this thread.)
A couple fellows in the Bible - Paul and Moses - actually attempted to do something like this, to gain the salvation of their brethren at the cost of their own souls. As for St. Francis Xavier, he subsequently went out and worked himself into a early grave, trying to save the people of Japan. He was sainted for this, even though you might think he violated the commanded to rest on the Sabbath and you might think he would have been ordered by a superior to obey that commandment. So, why was he sainted? It’s because of his great sincerity. I don’t think that it was that we should follow his example and work ourselves to death. It’s because God in his wisdom had a special calling for St. Francis Xavier.
2. Did St. Francis Xavier in working himself to death to save the people of Japan follow the admonition to esteem others more than himself; and, is this admonition superior to the commandment to love others as you love yourself?
Well, first of all, Jesus not only affirmed that to love others as you love yourself is second only to love God with your whole self as the greatest commandment and even that is is the sum of all the commandments. So, the admonition of Paul to esteem others more cannot be greater. At the risk of trivializing what Paul said, it means something like opening the door for others, and giving your opponent the benefit of the doubt in a game of tennis when the ball is near the line. Again, I do believe a superior would have ordered St. Francis Xavier to pace himself.
With regard to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, she was ordered by her superiors to rest and to eat properly, but she was compelled to incessant prayer and, in her weakness, overwhelmed by illness. Paradoxically, in view of her great devotion, she is best known for her teaching that our little things are acceptable to God. But, how would we have learned of her teaching without her testimony?
While ordinarily if we are obedient to God’s law we will be blessed with good health, prosperity, friendship and so forth, we know that God calls on some to be witnesses to the truth in a special way. Indeed, we live in an age of martyrs, when the Church is under siege all over the world, even here in the United States, and we are in need of the heroism of the saints.