Homily 2: Unless the Grain of Wheat Dies

2 April 2006: Fifth Sunday of Lent
John 12, 24-26. Finding Life By Losing It

Homily No. 2 (Note: The previous post is an alternative)

There are certain things which are lost by being kept and saved by being used. The essence of life is in risking life and spending life, not in saving it and hoarding it.

  1. Book by “What makes you Filipino”: when the new sofa is covered with plastic.
  2. When newly-acquired equipment such as the LCD projector is kept displayed at the Audio-Visual Room, and hardly used because of very strict rules. Some appliances are mostly underutilized.
  3. Talents that we possess: if we use it, talents develop into something greater. If not used, the person loses it in the end.
  4. Heroes, saints and martyrs: People, who risked their lives for our sake, have gained freedom and independence for us. St. Laurence (deacon) which we commemorate today.
  5. Love: How do I find true love? By doing it, as 1st Reading from James: what is faith without work. If you say you love another person, but you do not show it, it is useless. If you say you care about workers and their plight, but do not concretely act on it, you are then a liar. Love is about doing and expressing it in action.
    1. St. Ignatius: Love ought to find expression more in deeds than in words.
    2. To put to action our lives, means to risk being hurt.

God gave us life to spend and not to keep. If we live carefully, always thinking first of our own profit, ease, comfort and security, if our sole aim is to make life as long and as trouble-free as possible, if we will make no effort except for ourselves, we are losing life all the time. But if we spend life for others, if we --- like the seed that dies --- forget health and time and wealth and comfort in our desire to do something for Jesus and for the men and women for whom Jesus died, we are winning life all the time.

It is indeed a very difficult dilemma for many people, especially parents who protect their children all the time. If a son or daughter asks permission to volunteer to help poor people in a barrio, would you give permission? On one hand, we are saved from anxiety by keeping them in our house, but on the other hand, we have lost the opportunity to help them learn the value of volunteer work, of caring for the poor. On one hand, parents claim it is to protect them from danger, but on the other hand, losses the opportunity to help their children risk their lives for others, and protect themselves from the more dangerous thing in life --- saving and hoarding life. It is no wonder when volunteer programs such as our Pahinungod, suddenly die.

The very essence of life is in risking life and spending life, not in saving it and hoarding it. True, it is the way to weariness, of exhaustion, of giving to the uttermost ---- but it is better any day to burn like a candle in the dark, than to rust like a metal chair in the stockroom without use.

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