There's something about today's Gospel that I keep avoiding... My excuse is that I am distracted by the denouement of the long campaign we have been through. But I suspect that it is the meat of the Gospel that I am really avoiding. In a way, the Gospel matches the first reading quite well--something that doesn't happen too often in the weekday cycles. Jesus is saying to the "great crowds" that they must turn their backs on every precious thing, life included, to really be his followers. He calls for full surrender; otherwise, we are starting a project that is doomed to incompletion. All or nothing.
And St. Paul is giving the example of someone who did just that. Even more, Paul testifies to the joy he feels at the prospect of his life being "poured out like a libation."
In a way, Ignatius' "suscipe" prayer expresses Paul's heart: Take, Lord, receive, all..I have and possess. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.