Sacrifice and service
In today’s gospel we see some foreigners coming to Jesus, very much interested in who He is, what He is about and what He has to say. Jesus in response gives them the whole truth and nothing but the truth—He tells them about Himself.
He tells them that the time for His glorification is soon approaching, but a glorification that must always be understood in light of His suffering and death. In fact, He makes it clear that there can be no salvation without sacrifice and service. He states, “Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest”.
Let us reflect upon the word ‘unless’. It is not only the first word in the sentence, it is also the most potent. Jesus tells us definitively that there is no other way, no substitute path, and no alternative route where salvation is concerned.
It is quite interesting that for the majority of our lives, most of us feel we know the best path or the right road to take for ourselves. In fact, we believe that our lives should be nothing but an easy and comfortable experience, and so we set out with great ambition to make this a reality from as early as our youth.
We do so by getting a good education to attain a well-paying job, to buy the nice things in life, and all because we want to surround ourselves with the ‘correct’ people. However, Jesus challenges that in this gospel, when he says, “If we love our lives, we will lose it”.
And He is right, because while we must enjoy this earth and all it has to offer, we were ultimately created for heaven, the place where Christ dwells and from where He currently “draws all men to himself”. Thus, any obsession with the world makes no sense, for the prince of this world (Satan) has already been overthrown and he cannot offer us eternal life.
Let us reflect on the many times we have chosen to give our children proper academic and athletic formation but ignored their spiritual growth, never cultivating within them a love for the Mass or the Sacraments. Let us reflect on the times we have chosen to be workaholics and neglected not only our Sunday obligation but our entire faith community, whose only desire is to be in communion with us.
Let us reflect on the times we have neglected to be fully committed to a baptism, confirmation or marriage preparation course but have been very dedicated to our political party of choice as they prepare for elections. Let us be honest this Lent; let us acknowledge that we make choices all through our lives and sometimes these choices serve ourselves and not God.
Jesus himself says it: “If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I AM, my servant will be there too.” It makes sense to follow Jesus for He knows the Way we must go. He knows the Way because He has been there before, dwelling co-eternally with God the Father and God the Spirit, and now having ascended, has gone before us to prepare a place for us. Jesus pleads with us to trust in Him and this also makes complete sense, for He calls himself the Truth.
And being the Truth as both God and man, He perfectly knows how we think and feel, for He completely identifies with us as a human person (even though He did not sin). Therefore, let Him show us what it means to be fully human.
Let Him show us the way we must go and the choices we must make. Let Him show us the courses we should study, the spouse we should have, the job we should accept or reject. Ultimately, let Him direct our lives showing us not only the true answers to the decisions we must make, but also what we must prioritise in our everyday living. Rest assured, He will always direct us to prioritise charity and love—for there is where God is always found.
Let us acknowledge the fact that we often think we know the Way for ourselves, and whole Truth of ourselves, but “unless” both our Way and our Truth is found in the Life of Jesus we can never have salvation.
The Gospel Meditations for March are by Br Maurice White OP, a former Arima/Malabar parishioner, and teacher at both Fatima College and Holy Cross College. He is currently studying for the priesthood at the Dominican Seminary in Dublin, Ireland.