REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 10, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Jn. 12:25
Today the Church honor with a feast the Roman deacon Lawrence who served the Church in the third century. As one of the seven deacons serving the Christians in Rome, Lawrence was responsible for distributing alms to the poor.
According to tradition, when Lawrence was asked to hand over the treasures of the church by the Roman authority, he gathered the poor, the handicap and the sick and presented them as the treasures of the Church. This seal his fate and he was martyred. The life of Lawrence was personified in our gospel reference of today.
Our gospel reference above is one of those powerful and shocking statements of Jesus. By loving our lives, we lose them, but by hating our lives we preserve them. At first read, one may think that those words “love” and “hate” were accidentally reversed. One might conclude that what Jesus meant to say was, “Whoever hates his life loses it” and “whoever loves his life preserves it.” But that’s not what He said. He did in fact say the opposite.
It must be understood that the words “love” and “hate” here are not used in the way we normally use them. In this passage, Jesus is using the word “love” to refer to selfishness or self-centeredness. And He uses the word “hate” to refer to selflessness or sacrificial self-giving. In other words, whoever is selfish in life will lose everything in the end but the one who is truly selfless and self-giving in life will ultimately gain everything.
This profound teaching of our Lord is difficult to comprehend without the gift of grace. Our human reason alone may struggle with the idea that selfless living is good. It is easy to rationally conclude that it is far better to elevate ourselves before everyone.
The rational mind might conclude that happiness and the “good life” is found in obtaining riches, status, power, and the respect of all. But this form of selfish self-centered living, though tempting on a purely human level, is the path to losing everything that is truly good. On the contrary, it is only when we allow God’s grace to inform our human reason that we will arrive at the conclusion that being selfless rather than selfish is what’s best.
To be selfless means our eyes are always turned to the good of the other. It means we do not sit and dwell on ourselves. It means we are fully committed to the service of God and our neighbor no matter the cost to us. We must give everything away in the service and love of God and that is the only way by which God gives back to us more than we could ever hope for.
Reflect, today, upon the high Christian calling you have been given to live a life that is completely selfless and self-giving in every way. If you find that you dwell on yourself most often, then try to change that habit. Turn your eyes to God and the service of others. Try to care more about the needs of those around you than your own concerns. Do so because this is what Jesus calls us to do, and, if He calls us to such a selfless life, then we must know and believe that it is worth it in the end.
Lord, You gave Your precious life away to all out of love. The total self-giving of Your life resulted in the salvation of those who will accept this glorious gift. Help me to not only open myself to this freely given gift of Yours but to also imitate Your selfless life by giving myself in service of You and others. Saint Lawrence, deacon, and martyr, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.