Sunday Breakfast with the Word
There is a particular story of one Mr Francis who moves about telling people the need to take many alcoholic drinks every day. Mr Francis is a man who finds it very difficult to live without taking alcoholic drinks. He can take at least six or seven of them every day.
Many people come to know him with this, that he hardly moves about without an alcoholic drink. He was even celebrated because of it. Many brewery companies used him to advertise their products. Because he can drink many bottles of alcoholic beverages within thirty minutes.
One day, Mr Francis felt a particular discomfort in his body and invited his doctor for a normal routine check-up. The diagnosis revealed that Mr Francis had developed a problem with his kidney.
The doctor advised him that the only way he can live is to quit drinking any form of alcoholic drink.” You have to cease from drinking alcohol if you truly love your life. This has become part of you but to help yourself, this is the only remedy” said the doctor. In essence, Mr Francis has to die to alcohol to help his life.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that unless a grain of wheat dies, it will never bear a rich harvest. That is the secret of life. This is the secret of eternal life and this is what Jesus comes to do as we are approaching the peak of the Lenten season.
To Die: The Meaning.
To die means a cessation of life. It means to stop something from living. When something or somebody dies, the person stops being active and living. It fades away.
For a seed to germinate and give birth to many fruits, the seed has to die to itself to be able to germinate. Jesus sees this as the secret of Life. He says unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not bear an abundant harvest. Hence, If we wish to live we have to die. Today’s readings need a thorough analysis to get to the message of the day.
1.As the feast of the Passover gradually approaches, people begin to come in their numbers to the city of Jerusalem. Today’s gospel happened after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
In verse 12 of this gospel (John 12:20-33), the great crowd of people who had come for the Passover festival welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with branches of palms shouting Hosanna, Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord.
Many Greeks also came to worship at the Passover feast. So while Jesus was preaching, some Greeks approached Philip asking for permission to see Jesus.
Philip is not a Jewish name, so maybe the Greeks felt he would understand them more. When Andrew and Philip told Jesus about it, Jesus replied to them that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Jesus uses this opportunity to talk about the suffering He is going to undergo. But this suffering will be a way of glorification. Jesus reminds the people of the great hour they have been waiting for. The hour the messiah is going to be revealed.
The hour has come when God is going to reveal who He is. He is the salvation the people have been waiting for but unless the grain of wheat dies, it will not bear an abundant harvest.
Here Jesus metaphorically tells them of the need for the Messiah to undergo death so that all people can be saved. It is a glory that will come through suffering, crucifixion and death.
Towards the end, Jesus says that this is the reason He has come. To suffer and die that through his suffering and death we shall come to life.
1. When the voice from heaven resounded, the people thought it was a clap of thunder or an angel speaking. But Jesus tells them that the voice is for the people and not for Him.
Hence God is using this hour to reveal to the people who Jesus is like He did to the apostles in the mountain of transfiguration.
God is inviting the people to believe that Jesus is truly the Messiah they have been waiting for. His death is not a way of defeat but a way to save them. His death leads to the defeat of the powers of Satan and the revelation of God’s glory.
2. During this encounter, Jesus says that now is the time for the Prince of this world, to be overthrown and conquered. So the suffering and death of Jesus is a way of victory. He is going to die but his death is a way to live.
The salvation the people want will be given to them on the cross of Calvary. Through this, the world will know how God loves the world, that He can give His only Son to die for their sake.
Therefore, to live, Jesus has to die. To save, Jesus has to go through the cross. Therefore this is a self-sacrificing love that must be at the heart and principle of every Christian and child of God.
3. In the gospel, Jesus says “whoever serves me must follow me and my servant will be with me wherever I am”. In essence if we truly want to follow Jesus and serve Him, we must make a willing sacrifice. We have to sacrifice everything that will keep us away from His love.
In every sacrifice, something must die for something to be achieved. In the Old Testament, the patriarchs use rams, goats, oxen etc., for sacrifice.
So, we have to put to death every aspect of our lives that leads us to disobedience to God’s word. We burn this up as a sacrifice to God.
5. The second reading says that Jesus obeys through suffering; but having been made perfect, He became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation. So, to achieve eternal life, we owe God if not our obedience.
Unless You Hate Your Life.
1.According to Jesus, one of the ways we can live is to hate our lives. In verse 25, Jesus says “Anyone who loves his life loses it and anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
If we take this literally we may think Jesus is advising us not to take care of our lives. The two outstanding words used here are love and hate.
The greek uses φιλῶν (philōn) meaning loving, fondly delights in, always loving and μισῶν (misōn) for hate, meaning hating, not concerned etc.
Hence, Jesus means anyone who is always concerned and fondly delights in enjoying His life will lose it, but the one who does not will find it. Hence Jesus is not advising you to hate your life but not to concern yourself about the things of life to the extent that you lose your soul.
2.The person who loves his life is the one whose interest is only to enjoy the present. He is willing not to serve Jesus but to enjoy his life first. He does not care about the welfare of his soul.
His concern is far from “Laying up treasure in heaven” (Matt 6:20). He lives like the carnal man and interested only in laying up treasures for himself on earth. Enjoying life is his priority over serving Jesus. Such a person will only lose the life He seeks to preserve.
3.The one who hates his life is the person who is living for the life to come. He is willing to sacrifice anything to keep his relationship with God. He obeys God at all cost. No matter the temptation, he is willing to keep his faith in God very strong.
Jesus says that such a person who serves Him like this, and willing to lay down his life for Him will be honoured by God (John 12:26).
1. In the first reading, God makes a new covenant with the people with the law written in their hearts and no longer on tablets of stone.
In this covenant, He says “I will be their God and they shall be my people. God hence means He is their ultimate ruler and guide. He takes care and provides for them, while they owe Him their service and obedience.
No one is to remind them again of what to do because deep inside their hearts they know what to do and what to avoid. Hence to be true children of the Most High God, Nothing is supposed to come in between this relationship. But today we have forgotten that we have God. We live as if God does not exist.
We neglect God’s words to live the way we want. This is a call to put to death everything that makes us forget God. We are the people and not God. Hence we have to live like people who have a Guide and Father.
2. Jesus says “Unless a grain of wheat dies it will not bring about abundant harvest”. Jesus loved us so much that He is willing to lay down His life for us. He did this so that we may have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10).
Jesus surrendered His life for us. To gain eternal life we have to follow His way. We have to surrender our lives to Him.
This is the only cross we have to carry which is the little burden we have to carry for the sake of our love for Him. He said my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11;28-30). It is the willingness to say no to sin and live for God.
3. Unless a grain of wheat dies is also a secret of success. To achieve success we have to die to laziness, die to procrastination, die to fear and other causes of failure.
We have to be willing to sacrifice our time and pleasures to be able to achieve what we want. In the same way, if we want to achieve eternal life, we have to die to sin, hatred, wickedness, unfaithfulness to God, immorality, lack of reverence for God, etc.
When we die to them, our lives hence will begin to change. We begin to live for God.
4. If you want to progress, then you have to die to anything that limits your progress in life. If you want peace in your family, the family has to die anything that will bring disorder in the family.
Hence if we truly want our lives to change, everything that causes us distraction must be put to death. When these die, a new form of life germinates.
5. Unless a grain of wheat dies also speaks directly to our spiritual lives. If we truly want to have a good relationship with God, we have to put death to all that distracts us from this relationship.
We cannot claim to be sons and daughters of God but yet we do not have His time.
We do not claim to be sons and daughters of God but yet we prefer to enjoy life, but neglect God entirely. If God is truly our God then nothing is supposed to come in between our relationship with Him.
Anything that wants to come in between must be put to death, Therefore remain strong in the Lord. He loves, He blesses and Only He can give eternal life.
May God help us to remain close to Him. Amen. Happy Sunday.