One man who learned what there is to lose and gain was an eighteenth-century slave-trader named John Newton. Captain of a trans-Atlantic slaving ship, he had everything this world can offer as he made a lucrative living from the brutal business of buying and selling human cargo. Eventually, he was confronted with Jesus Christ, and he was converted to the Gospel truth which makes us free. He spent the rest of his life crusading to abolish the very business which had proven so enriching.

He also wrote a number of great hymns, including a familiar one which begins: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see.”

Once, John Newton thought that he was on top of the world, but in truth, he was wretched and blind. He lacked the moral clarity to see that he was nothing more than a cynical businessman making money in an evil enterprise; he was allowing the agnostic’s law of supply and demand to separate him from his Christian conscience. Then Jesus came along and the old John Newton died. A new John Newton was born. An old life was lost and a new one was found, a new life whose melodic fruit remains with us to this day.

What about yourself? What have you got to lose? You’ve got to die to yourself in order to live with Christ! You’ve got to sacrifice and give up to gain! So what about it? What have you got to lose? What about selfishness? Shouldn’t we lose that narrow-minded little love which only extends to family and friends?

Fr. Joseph