Today’s Sunday gospel was John 12:20-30 which is copied at the end of this post.
In my homily I spoke about a memorable statement of St Augustine. We can live in one of two ways: either for ourselves or for others. Put in other words, we can spend our time and energy being concerned for ourselves or else in loving God and others. Practically these are two poles and we will tend to one or the other in our everyday decision making. I mentioned as an aside that becoming a parent of a newborn is a crash course in other-centred living!
To be a Christian and to live like Jesus is to choose to live for God and others. His sacrificial life and death for the salvation of the world is summed up in this verse of today’s gospel: I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.
Each Sunday when we come to Mass, we are remembering Jesus’ sacrificial death: This is my Body given for you… This is the cup of my Blood… poured out for the forgiveness of sins… Jesus concludes with ‘Do this in memory of me.’ One sense of this is to repeat the Last Supper ritual as we do at Mass. A deeper and much fuller meaning is to “Do this [sacrificial living] in memory of me.” This is worthy of our deepest consideration.
When we do this, we are rewarded by that same lifestyle. As St Francis said: It is in giving that we receive.
How can we live as sacrificial seeds like Jesus? Well, seeds need 3 things to grow and produce a harvest – water, humus/earth, manure.
One could compare water with the Living Water that Jesus promises in the gospels. This is another name for the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life. We cant live like Jesus on our own efforts. We need God’s help and grace as obtained through prayer and the sacraments.
Humus/earth gives us the root for the word ‘humility’. We need to constantly remember our littleness and God’s greatness and our corresponding dependence on him.
Manure is unpleasant to work with but it is an essential aspect of farming, the cycle of life, and the provision of nutrients to the seed. It may be compared to suffering which in the Second Reading was the means of Jesus’ perfection – and likewise for us: During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.
At the end of my homily I read out this meditation on living for God and others. I asked the people to listen to it carefully and invited them all at the end to say their personal AMEN – which some did! (Irish people are not really into this type of overt behaviour!)
Garfield and Liz are being a little self-centered in their treatment of Jon today!
Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:
‘Now the hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.
Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say:
Father, save me from this hour?
But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!’
A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.
People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’
Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.
‘Now sentence is being passed on this world;
now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself.’
By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.