Today’s readings focus on the approaching death of Jesus which Paul considers a priestly sacrifice and John considers the moment of Jesus’ “exaltation” and

“glorification.” The readings offer us a challenge. Just as Jesus became the “Promised Messiah of Glory” and the

“Conquering Son of Man” by offering His life for others, we, too, if we would come to Heaven, must die to self by loving obedience, spending our lives in self-giving, sacrificial service.

Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, explains how God will replace the Old Covenant of Judgment with a New Covenant of Forgiveness of sins. This New or Renewed Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah was fulfilled, at least in part, through Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection. In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Hebrews that it is by Jesus’ suffering and death, in obedience to His Father’s will, that Jesus established the New Covenant. Using metaphors of the “sown wheat grain” and the “spent life” in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the lessons St. Paul will repeat. The Gospel hints at the inner struggle of Jesus in accepting the cup of suffering to inaugurate the New and Eternal Covenant. However, Jesus accepts the cross as His “hour,” meaning the stepping stone to His passion, death, Resurrection and exaltation. Jesus also considers His “hour” as the way of glorifying His Heavenly Father and of being glorified by His Father. In addition, it is the way by which all people will be drawn into the saving action of God. Finally, the “lifting up” of Jesus on the

cross and later into Heavenly glory by Resurrection and Ascension is the assurance of our own exaltation and glorification, provided we accept our crosses.

Life messages:

  • Today’s Gospel teaches us that new life and eternal life are made possible only by the death of the self through obedience, suffering and service. Salt gives its taste by dissolving in water. A candle gives light by having its wick burned and its wax melted. The oyster produces a priceless pearl by transforming a grain of sand through a long and painful process. Loving parents sacrifice themselves so that their children can enjoy a better life than they themselves have had. Let us pray that we may acquire this self-sacrificing spirit, especially during
  • Only a life spent for others will be glorified, sometimes here in this world, but always in Heaven. We know that the world owes everything to people who have spent their time and talents for God and for their fellow human beings. Mother Teresa, for instance, gave up her comfortable teaching career, and with just 5 rupees (17 cents) in her pocket began her challenging life for the “poorest of the poor” in the crowded slums of Calcutta. We see similar cases in the history of great saints, scientists, and benefactors of mankind in all walks of life. They chose to burn out rather than to rust out. Examples are the Rockefeller Foundation for scientific progress and the Bill Gates Foundation for AIDS Research. Let us, too, spend ourselves for

~ Fr. Sebastian

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