Wednesday, August 10 ~ Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Holy Gospel: John 12:24-26 Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
Meditation: The image of the grain of wheat dying in the earth in order to grow and bear a harvest can be seen as a metaphor of Jesus’ own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection. Jesus knew that the only way to victory over the power of sin and death was through the cross. Jesus reversed the curse of our first parents’ disobedience through his obedience to the Father’s will — his willingness to go to the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and to defeat death once and for all. His obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit. His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love. There is a great paradox here – death leads to life; when we “die” to ourselves we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: O God, giver of that ardor of love for you by which Saint Lawrence was outstandingly faithful in service and glorious in martyrdom, grant that we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Have you ever asked what it means to “die” to oneself? It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s commands, God’s will and the teachings of Christ must be “crucified” or “put to death.” God gives us grace to say “yes” to his will and to reject whatever is contrary to his loving plan for our lives. Jesus also promises that we will bear much “fruit” for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake. Jesus used forceful language to describe the kind of self-denial he had in mind for his disciples. What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself? The expression to “hate” something often meant to prefer less. Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven. Do you hope in the Lord and follow joyfully the path that he has chosen for you? Or when challenged by Christ, do you push back? Learn now how to die to one’s self.