John 12:24-26 Whoever Serves Me Must Follow Me
There is a lot we can learn from nature, and our Lord loved to apply it in his preaching. Jesus observed the seasons, noticed the fields and reflected on the most common daily activities of his day: farming, fishing, carpentry. I would not be surprised if the child Jesus watched his neighbors throw the seed and wait patiently, every day, for the first buds of life to sprout. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why kids today do not learn so well. They spend way too much time inside rather than outside; in the virtual world as opposed to the real world.
Whenever I had some disciplinary issues with a student, I would ask the Dean of Students to take him outside to do some gardening. It seemed to help open up their minds to the mistakes they were making; raking up the dead grass, pulling out the weeds, watering the grass, and digging a hole for a new plant.
I myself learned, as a young man, from an old priest, how nature could teach us some good lessons. One day, while in spiritual direction, he took me outside to his garden, and asked me to pull out a weed that was in front of us. I did. It was very simple to do because it was still very small. Then he asked me to remove a tree! I looked at him and told him it was impossible. He said, “Exactly, that is why it is important to remove a bad habit while it is still small. Because when it gets bigger (and deeper), it will be almost impossible to remove.” I never forgot the lesson.
“Whoever wishes to save his life must lose it.” This is the Paradox of paradoxes. “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” This is the Law of Nature. This is the Law of Life. We are called to be much more than animals, for we were created to be more. We were called to be much more than humans, for we were loved to be much more. We are called to be Saints, the highest form of evolution, the highest calling and yearning of man: to lay down his life, for his friend, his neighbor, his enemy. What greater love has man! What greater love has God! He leads by example. It is written in our hearts because Christ wrote it with his blood.
Read the newspapers; look for articles on heroism. Read the eye witness reports of the recent recipients of the Medal of Honor. Read the lives of the Saints, the martyrs. What do you see? In all of the stories, you will see Christ’s love story. What will you feel? Your heart lifting up, swelling up, expanding. You will notice immediately the same reaction you felt the first time you saw the Passion of the Christ, or read about it.
“Amen, amen, I say to you”…
- ”whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly” (2Cor 9:6).
- “Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need” (Ps. 112:5);
- “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:7b).
Today, the Lord is asking us to give till it hurts and to smile.