The Gospel of John 12:25 quotes Jesus, "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for life eternal."
The statement by Jesus about losing one's life in this world in order to preserve it for life eternal is called a paradox. A paradox is an apparent contradiction, but it isn't. It's just an insightful way of getting us to move beyond appearances so we can appreciate the marvelous gift of new life which he is offering us.
The followers of Jesus, indeed everyone in this broken world, can expect to suffer. Thus Christians must be prepared to lose their lives as they have formally lived them in order to save themselves.
No great goal has ever been achieved without sacrifice. The greatest goal in this life is to save your soul and get to heaven. What makes the suffering of Christians bearable is that it will soon pass and the pain will turn to joy. We also know that the suffering involved in living a good life is not futile. In fact, it is entirely possible for the Christian to experience inner joy and contentment in spite of suffering. This inner joy and contentment is described in the Gospel as peace; that is, peace of mind and peace of soul.
The story about Jesus, who slept through the storm, while the disciples who, "lacking in faith," were terrified of the situation they were in, is a story about the power of faith in the midst of fear. Life is a series of ups and downs, a story of successes and failures, of joys and sorrows. Faith in Jesus helps us to hold steady when the going gets tough, to stay calm and trust in God when problems seem overpowering. Jesus did not promise his followers a rose garden, but He did promise them the security and calmness of faith which would bring them safely through the temptations and evils in the world. He promised everyone who "loses his life" for his sake, a new and better life, here and in eternity.
When everything is going well, when we seem to move along as if transported on a flowery bed of ease, it is convenient to believe in a benign and caring God who watches over us. But, it is in those times of crisis and suffering that our faith is put to the test, and that we are called upon to share the cross of Jesus. This is when we begin to understand what it means to be a true disciple. During this Fifth Sunday of Lent, let us focus on the cross which is the means of bringing us to the resurrection. Before we rise to new life, we must die to the old ways of sin.
Jesus gives us the power to save our lives and to overcome the powers of evil. No matter what the future holds in store for us, no matter what problems we have to face, we can confidently depend on Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the light.
May your faith in him lead you to the new life of Easter.
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, "What is This Thing Called Faith?" is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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