Nowadays, it is not at all familiar to talk about dying, about loss, or even about the fact that life is not meant to be loved. They talk about the joy of life, the love of life. But in every era, one dies, loses, and encounters failures, and diseases. And not only that. We are also all put into situations where we must lose something to gain something else.
In today’s Gospel, we heard the essential characteristic of Jesus’ reason for existence: loss as a way to gain. “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will save it for eternal life” (Jn 12, 25).
According to St. John, Jesus’ words from today’s Gospel sound sad. Lord Jesus is preparing for his death and he is also prepping his disciples for it. It is strange that instead of the disciples pleasing Jesus, he is pleasing them. He explains to them why he must die. If a grain is sown in the ground and dies, a sprout will grow from inside it, breaking through the soil into the open space. The grain receives moisture and light and rises higher and higher. It’s nothing sad, after all, when several stalks grow from one grain, which bears ears, and each ear contains several grain grains. That’s a reason to be happy. But not deep underground in the roots of each new plant lies a decayed grain of wheat that has died so that new life can grow from it. We say to ourselves: if such a grain could decide whether it wanted to die, and in the end, it chose its death, for what other reason would it do so, if not for the love of what is to come? If it thought selfishly of itself, it would lie in the cold and dry, all hard and intact, and, perhaps, eventually come out. When it dies, this image of a grain of wheat bearing fruit applies to every person, but in context it is a fundamental statement about Jesus’ attitude. It can be said that it was the content of Jesus’ entire life. He did not selfishly want to keep himself, but he was ready to sacrifice his life. It shows us under what conditions one can obtain true life. The answer sounds meaningless: The one who “loves his life,” that is, who wants to keep it under all circumstances and cannot detach himself from himself, will lose it. He will not find his own fulfilled life. On the other hand, he who “hates his life in this world,” which is constantly threatened by death, i.e., does not regard it as the highest value he would like to preserve at all costs, will gain it. Surrendering life is genuinely, the price of life, according to these words. Life is lived by self-giving and the ability to give oneself up. This was the law of Jesus’ life, and everyone who embarks with him on a life-long journey of service, meaning the sacrifice of life will have a share in his life.
Many times, we are put in a situation where we have to lose something. Children who come to school give up their freedom and freedom, carefreeness because responsibilities and worries begin. Why all this? To learn to write, read, and count. They always lose something as they go through elementary school, middle school, and college. Something lower is lost for something higher. Although they don’t realize it right away, they later realize that it is necessary. A similar situation exists when a young man decides to get married and loses all others because of that one beloved. It’s the same with a girl. And what a mother must sacrifice for herself, her comfort, strength, and health for her children. We all know it well. A loss to someone else is never a loss.
We tend to ask: What’s in it for me? What will it bring me? What benefits will I get from it? Is it even worth it? We are often disgusted by everything. The Lord Jesus answers these and similar questions when he tells us: “Losing for God (directly or through our neighbor)” is the surest way to live a fulfilled life here, a life that bears fruit. Jesus’ life does not revolve around its own axis. He not only spoke but also acted. He could not be served, but served; he did not ask but gave; taught that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). From this we see that the fulfillment of his life was the sovereign good. He clearly prioritized the love of God and neighbor over the love of his life. With this, he showed us the way, and not only that. By being the God-man, he passed through death to resurrection and opened the door for us all. It gives meaning to our life, to every suffering, pain, and death. Christ destroyed death and opened the way to God for us. From senseless human loss, which is often a large part of our life – such as the loss of health, strength, and finally life itself, Jesus made a supreme path that leads to fulfillment and life with God. A person who accepts the words about the grain of wheat and “hates” life in this world wholeheartedly becomes a person freed from fear and, moreover, a person whose life bears fruit.
We can be convinced that losing has meaning daily when we observe people who could give up something freely, with faith, and with joy. Something of yourself, something of yourself. We see happiness and serenity on their faces, unlike those who were focused only on themselves and their comfort. They are sullen, unhappy, and feel empty.
We are experiencing a time of fasting, a time of renunciation, a time of loss. Do not fear, brothers and sisters, the loss of all that hinders us from following the path to our Lord and Master. Let’s go with him along the Way of the Cross to Golgotha. We know it’s worth it. Therefore, let’s use the time of holy confession and prepare ourselves for the coming of the resurrected Christ.
Missionary Torey shows us that to lose with God and for God is to gain. who writes about it in his theological book when he worked and preached the gospel in Calcutta, India.
After the sermon, a college student, a university student, came to him and said to him: “I believe what you preach about the Lord Jesus because it is clear and beautiful. But I don’t know if I should be baptized.” The missionary asks: “How should I understand this?” The young man answers: “I study law at the university. My father is a very rich man in South India and I am the sole heir. If I got baptized, he wouldn’t give me a penny more for my studies, I wouldn’t be able to finish my studies, I wouldn’t be able to work as a lawyer or anything else because I am a member of the Brahmin caste, and finally my father would disinherit me, and I would become a beggar forever . Tell me, spiritual father, what should I do?” And the missionary says to him: “Consider, but carefully and deeply consider, which is more: to be a free son of the Heavenly Father, or to be a slave of material goods in this world?” The young man knelt, he put his head in his hands and thought. He thought for a long time. Finally, he stood up and said: “I have decided to be baptized.” And they agreed on the date and hour of the baptism. He also wrote to his father when he would be baptized. The father came to see if the ceremony would be performed, and when it was done, after the baptism, he said to his son: “At this moment you have lost everything, you cease to be my son and heir, and you will not receive a penny from me.” And the son calmly said: “At this point, I’ve gained everything. I have become the son and heir of the Heavenly Father and I am filled with immense happiness.”
The incident we just heard wants to show us that wealth and material possessions are unimportant. Something else is more important. The young man understood it correctly, because even though he lost his father and all his inheritance, he gained much more. What he got made him extremely happy because he got the sonship of God.
Let us also ask the almighty God to be able to accept trials in which we will have to take the loss of someone or something.
Lord Jesus, we know that loss with you and for you is never a loss but a path that will lead us to the kingdom of God.
To encourage parents and foster parents to be vigilant about the child entrusted to them.
You will agree that Advent arouses feelings and hopes full of joy for the approaching Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. However, Advent means the future. Something is ahead of us and we want to be ready for it. That’s why we have to be vigilant. We know that sometimes it is difficult, but at the same time, it is joyful when it comes to a person who is reborn today in the baptism of water and of the Holy Spirit.
On today’s first Advent Sunday, Lord Jesus tells us directly and concretely: “Watch” (Mk 13:33).
In the original meaning, “vigilant” is one who spends the night in an open area. In the midst of the sounds of the night, but also the one who does not slumber, does not sleep, does not lie around, but fulfills his duties towards God and human society every day. Everyone is in their place, where they are at the moment, and at the same time, they have in mind the Lord with whom they are supposed to meet.
But staying awake does not mean standing in convulsive tension in front of something terrifying, nor does it mean remaining inactive. In this parable, Jesus tells us about the Lord of the house who is long gone. And since he has been gone for a long time, the tenants feel at home. The Master of the house will not even think of them. They don’t even want to believe that he is and that he could come. Today’s people also sometimes feel the same way. He does not believe in God as the Lord of this house – the world. He thinks that he won’t be accountable to anyone one day. Advent helps us to strengthen ourselves in the hope of the coming of the Lord. Since man here on earth cannot calculate the time of his arrival, vigilance is doubly necessary. So let’s all be vigilant without distinction.
Dear ones, Advent has a dual nature. It is the time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Son of God when we celebrate his coming to people, and at the same time it is the time when we turn our thoughts to the expectation of the second coming of Christ at the end of the ages.
Dear parents, you, too have been eagerly awaiting the birth of your son. A new life was born from your love. You gave him earthly life. Now, you have come to this temple together with your godparents and with the entire parish community to ensure in the sacrament of baptism a new birth for a life that does not end with physical death. Let’s try to think together now about what baptism is. Baptism is a sacrament that is the basis of the entire Christian life, the entrance gate to life in the spirit, as well as the gate that opens access to other sacraments. Through baptism, this child will be freed from sin in a moment and reborn as a child of God, will become a member of Christ, will be integrated into the Church, and will receive participation in its mission. So it follows from all this that baptism is the sacrament of rebirth through water in the word.
Baptism washes away original sin. This is not a personal sin of the child. According to the biblical image of original sin, this means that your child was born into sinful humanity. This child will also have a tendency – a temptation to do bad things. He will have to watch over that temptation and fight against it. Baptismal rebirth is a sign that Christ has triumphed over him and over death, and all of us who are here, when we watch over temptation and fight against it, will win over it and over death. A baptized person, including your child, will experience difficult moments, worries, anxieties, sin, illness, and death in his life like any other person. But the baptized person is never alone. The Christian knows that God is watching over him, who protects him and who accompanies him with his paternal favor. During baptism ceremonies, the priest does not address the baptized child, but you, the parents, and godparents. You will not say the confession of faith for the infant, but you, the parents and godparents, confess your faith, consent to the child being baptized, and at the same time take the commitment that you will watch over this child of God growing up as a true Catholic Christian.
In a little while we will welcome a new member into Christ’s mysterious body of the Church, which we are all looking forward to. We are all obligated to protect and watch over this child of God. The Lord Jesus clearly told us in today’s Gospel: “And what I say to you, I say to all, watch” (Mk 13:37). This vigil applies first of all to you, parents and godparents, but last but not least to all of us. We must all watch that this child is protected from anything hindering, we meeting the Heavenly Father.
A mother and her two little girls were in a shelter during the war. In the beginning, the little girls were brave. But when the bombs started falling, fear took hold of them. And they started crying. The mother said to them: “But, children, what kind of heathen fear do you have?” The children immediately stopped crying. Mother had already explained to them that through baptism we became God’s children and that God knows about and watches over us. He will never leave us. Therefore, we must not be afraid like the heathen who do not know God and are dependent on themselves. We are sons and daughters of God.
This short story shows us how much it is necessary to explain the truths of faith to children like this mother. Because when we explain things to them correctly, children will be happy to be God’s children and will be alert to anything hindering them from following the Lord Jesus.
Let us now promise together to the Heavenly Father that we adults want to cooperate with baptismal grace, and at the same time, we will watch over that this grace is protected and can develop in this newly baptized child.
Adopt the criteria of happiness and implement them in personal and social life.
Don’t you also feel that joy is disappearing from our surroundings? When was the last time we laughed with gusto? What can we laugh at? What is the content of pleasure?
I know a person who cracks jokes, but is not ambiguous or offensive. He has a policy of first telling a joke to God. Yes, to God. And because he is a Catholic Christian, he has a conscience; he approaches the sacraments, he will never tell people a joke that would offend God. He knows how to make people laugh and entertain, and often to his address. That is why he is a sought-after companion, popular, and exemplary Catholic Christian. He is a faithful witness of God.
Apostle St. John of St. He writes to John the Baptist: “He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that through him all may believe.” (Jn 1:7)
John the Baptist is presented as a witness. What do we first imagine when we hear the word “witness”? He is a direct participant who is touched by a thing or an event that has meaning and impactsand on life for him and others. Being a witness is often very important and necessary. A witness can change things events and give them a different stamp with his testimony. A witness can be an unpleasant matter for someone and a benefit, an enrichment for another.
John the Baptist is truly an integral witness of the historical advent. He clearly answers that he is neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor a prophet, although Jesus said of him that he is the greatest prophet: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen a greater one than John the Baptist.” ( Mt 11,11) What is the greatness and significance of John the Baptist as a witness? He bore witness to the light. He presented Jesus to the crowd as the expected Messiah. He proved with his life that what he says is true. He lives as he preaches, what he draws attention to, and challenges all who come to him. He asks: “Make the way for the Lord” (Jn 1:23) and he is happy because he is fulfilling the will of God. John the Baptist is full of God. The baptism of repentance helps recognize the one, already in the crowd, but people cannot recognize him because of sin. John the Baptist’s humility towards Jesus gives him joy in his heart, for which he does not hesitate to die in Herod’s prison.
The liturgy of the third Sunday of Advent allows you to use a pink robe instead of a purple one, at St. the organ and other musical instruments can be used in the mass. The joy of the approaching feast of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus should stand out. Today’s readings challenge us. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah: “I rejoice in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10). In the responsorial psalm, the Virgin Mary rejoices and rejoices with the words: “My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God.” (Lk 1:46) In the second reading of St. Paul says: “Brothers, rejoice always.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) These are calls to realize the importance of our testimony. A faithful witness of the birth of the Lord, Jesus proves with his life his relationship to God, to his neighbor, to himself , to all things and values of soul and body.
But where are these witnesses? What does happiness and joy consist of? We see less and less happy, satisfied and smiling people around us. Why? Someone remarked that there are more and more advantages comfort, but less happiness and joy in our homes. People look for joy and happiness where they cannot be found. The true values of happiness and joy do not lie in wealth. They often have fat accounts, luxury cars, villas, and simultaneouslyand, and you can see they are sad, unhappy… The proverb says: “Without wealth, much is missing from happiness, and wealth is even more harmful to happiness.” The fact that someone is rich, famous, that he has position power, that may not make him happy. It is enough to take a closer look at the lives of these people, and we will find that they were abandoned, that many ended tragically, and that they were sad and unhappy people.
Where to find true happiness and joy? Believing in God and living with God gives a Christian what nothing and no one can give him and cannot take away. A Christian knows how to enjoy and rejoice not only when he is young, but also in his old age. Pain, illness, time of trial, and failure will not take away the Christian’s joy, because he has hope, assurance, guarantee from Jesus. A Christian knows how to rejoice not only in big things, but also in small things, when he sees in them the love or the will of his God. A Christian rejoices and rejoices in the new day when he gets up in the morning and when he lays down to rest in the evening. What determines happiness and joy? Relationship to God, neighbors, and oneself, a clear conscience when fulfilling God’s will and not just one’s own. The greatest misfortune and obstacle to happiness and joy is evil, sin. Let’s reach inside and look at our life. When were we happy? Have we found happiness in sin? Have we met a happy egotist, a miser, a fornicator, an angry person, a scumbag, a drug addict, a thief, a murderer…? Even the most minor, making sin kills happiness and joy and makes a person sad and unhappy. The life of every person will be sad and unhappy until he returns to God, until he leaves all sin behind, until he gets closer to his neighbors.
Yes, today’s readings are right. The prophet Isaiah discovers joy when he accepts the mission “to proclaim joy to the beaten, to bind up the brokenhearted, to announce freedom to the captives and release to the bound.” (Is 61,1) St. is right. Paul, when he writes to Thessalonica: “Protect yourself from evil in any form!” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) The apostle St. John, when he describes the behavior of St. John the Baptist, who announces Christ: “He stands among you whom you do not know. He is coming after me, and I am not worthy to untie the strap of his shoe.” (Jn 1:27)
Seek joy always, but seek true joy. Today, travel agencies organize vacations where they teach people to rejoice and be happy. But many cannot and cannot be satisfied after returning from such a vacation. Only those who accept God as their Lord, his teaching as their goal of life and abandon the evil, sinful way of life can do it.
The principle applies: Look for happiness in the right address. There is no joy there. She cannot be found there. You can’t mistake joy for pleasantness. Pleasantness is one thing, that is bodily happiness, and joy of the soul is another.
The heavier the sin, the greater the pain of the soul and the bad consequences. The more one accepts illicit, sinful pleasures, the more one becomes sad and has to bear the consequences—another picture. The more often we eat what is forbidden, the more we feel the hunger, hunger and bitterness of sin—or another comparison. The more you run after forbidden pleasures, the more you move away from true joy. Joy is not possible when we are weighed down by remorse. Sometimes, it can go so far as to say that he cannot die.
In the internal department, everyone is waiting for the death of one patient. They can’t help him. A man suffers a lot in his years. They don’t understand him. The very first look at the patient reveals that something is wrong. Relatives do not come. Anyone who knows the drama of this man’s life is not surprised. It’s been going on for a week. None of the patients want to be in the room with him. An older nurse, a practicing Christian with a lot of experience, will solve the matter. In the evening, she called the priest to explain everything. To the surprise of both, the patient opened his eyes and began to confess on his own. He bet on the wrong luck in his life. He didn’t confess for years. His wife left him, and his children and his own siblings disowned him. He confessed. He died that night. A pathology employee told a nurse from the internal medicine department: “I have never seen a dead face that smiled like this man’s face.” The nurse quietly remarked: “Peace and joy returned to the heart of the deceased.” Anton Golubiev writes in Letters to a Friend: “
The more significant the gap between man and God, the sadder people are… They would also rejoice more in the things around them if they had a better relationship with God.” Vera Nordin writes about herself: “I have everything. Why am I sad?”
The words of John the Baptist, which Isaiah already knew: “Make straight the way of the Lord” are a recipe and medicine for everyone who desires true happiness and soul healingfaces. Abbot Marmion is right when he says: “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us!”
Michel Quist is right when he writes: “Are you sad? Why? No one appreciates your work, your efforts, your life? Do you want to say something important, and no one listens to you, no one likes you? Ask God for forgiveness for your sorrow and then return whole to your fellow man. Ask them, listen to them, be interested in their work, show interest in them, give them credit, appreciate their effort… and don’t expect anything from them in return. God himself will give you joy.”
The climax of Advent. The sacrament of reconciliation also belongs to the preparation for the feast of the Nativity of the Lord. We can experience peace, joy, a smile on our face, a good night’s sleep, the return of friends and more before Christmas. We believe it is possible.
What can be a lesson for us? Before telling a joke to someone, let’s tell it to God first. This will also be one of the criteria of true joy.