John 12: 24-26
2 Cor 9: 6-10 / Psa 112
The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Teach me, Lord, what in me must die
That I may be Your faithful sheep...
What things in life must I deny,
That real treasures I may keep.
(Jesus said), “I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:24-26)
When a grain of wheat or corn is sown in the earth, its germination brings about a transformation, and its old form ceases to exist. But its death brings about a new life that eventually yields a harvest of “a hundred, sixty, or thirtyfold” (Mt.13:8). The same is true in a man’s life when he “turns a new leaf” and becomes a true follower of Jesus Christ. In order to become productive, he has to die to his old self before a new life in the renewal can evolve. He has to die to his passions (flesh) and desires (worldliness). Because, as Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (the world) (Mt.6:24). We have to die to this world and its pleasures in order to live for Christ alone. We can never have it both ways.
“The man who loves his life will lose it.” What our Lord meant was loving one’s life in this world will cause one to lose eternal life in His kingdom. It is not for our earthly existence that we are followers of Christ. As St. Paul put it so clearly, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor 15:19). As we read in another gospel, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world, but forfeit his life? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36,37) Life and soul therefore are one.
“The man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” These words simply mean denying everything in this life for the sake of God’s love. Jesus even put it more bluntly in the Gospel of Luke: “If anyone comes to me without ‘hating’ his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:25). To be a true Christian is to be willing to forsake everything in this world if we want to ensure our passage to eternal life.
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” It is never easy to be a follower of Christ, but the prize of being honored by His Father in this life and in the next is a treasure beyond compare. To achieve this goal, we need to fall and die like that grain of wheat; and we need to be fervent in prayer, that the Holy Spirit may help us to “crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires” (Gal 5:24).
Help us, Father God, through the power of Your Holy Spirit to banish all forms of self-indulgence and worldliness in our lives, and to have courage to take up our cross daily to follow You, and serve You by spreading the Good News of salvation to others. We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.