Meditations by Msgr. Liptak


Msgr. Liptakweekly gospel meditations



Dying to Sin

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33.




Aim: to show (1) that sin, though it presents itself as attractive, is nonetheless heinous; (2) that we must eliminate sin from life by dying to self in the footsteps of Jesus the Suffering Servant of the Lord

Today's First Reading is from Jeremiah. His obedience to God's will under hardship foretold Jesus' obedient suffering service, summarized in today's Second Reading, from the Epistle to the Hebrews. Jesus buried himself perfectly within his Father's will.

This relates quite beautifully to today's Gospel, from John. Therein we read that a delegation of Greek-speaking individuals once sought an interview with our Lord. They went to Philip (because he had a Greek-sounding name?); Philip referred their request to Andrew, who arranged for the audience.

The question these Greeks put to our Lord is not recorded. (One theory is that they asked Christ to become a teacher in an academy, to be an intellectual leader, like Socrates or Aristotle, perhaps.)

If the question is not in the scriptures, Jesus' answer is. We just read it, in the Gospel: "I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal."

What priorities have we to assign the various activities and endeavors of a lifetime? To amass knowledge or friends? To secure the adulation of the crowds? To take from life everything we possibly can in the premise that to live here below is a one-time opportunity?

Jesus, who is Wisdom incarnate, tells us that supreme wisdom is to bury oneself in God's will so thoroughly that nothing else matters in life. To bury implies crucifixion, of course; at least the acceptance of suffering. Yet the person "who loves his life will lose it."

Obviously this means following God's law; avoiding sin, in other words, and if serious sin is committed, approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as possible. We cannot fulfill our destinies as sons and daughters of the Eternal Father while sin separates us from him and his love.

Burying oneself in the divine will also means not living simply for ourselves, but for others; by trying to find Christ in others, especially those who are unconsulted or rejected.

Burying oneself in the divine will also means being instruments for Christ in grace: by witnessing to him for example, In our everyday conversation, as well as by our attending Sunday Mass. It also means avoiding not only sin-which is never right or good, which is always wrong and ugly-but also the occasions of sin; the persons, places or things which set the climate for temptations against God's will to emerge, albeit subtly.

Being a Christian then is discovering how our identity-my identity-can conform to Christ, without whom I have no meaning, or real life, or any future, through burying myself within him.

This is not impossible to do when we keep in mind, as today's Second Reading bids us, that Jesus, who went before us in this life, knows our plight as poor pilgrims wandering here below, and intercedes with the Father for us always.




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