August 7, 2009
Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
John 12: 24-26
Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe you want me to have faith in you, faith that hearkens to your words without any second guessing. I hope in your words, not relying solely on my own strength or reasoning. I love you. You continue to astonish me by showing me that your ways are not my ways.
Petition: Lord, strengthen my resolve to spread my faith today.
1. Paul’s Trials for Christ
“Whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” St. Paul is a brilliant example of a follower of Christ who lost his life for Christ. “Five times,” he writes, “I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Hating one’s life means taking risks for love of Life himself.
2. Yielding Results
“But if it dies, it produces much fruit.…” St. Paul spent his life dying for love of Christ, and his efforts bore much fruit. Recall his three missionary journeys and how he brought the gospel to the ends of the civilized world. Consider the communities he founded and the apostolic letters he wrote, which have become nourishment for Christians for 2000 years. Think about the stamp of militancy in virtue that he left on Christianity for all time. When a seed falls into the ground for love of the Lord, it truly produces much fruit.
3. Pauline Contemplation
Saint Paul died to himself so effectively that he thoroughly became another Christ, as we, too, are called to be. Contemplate any moment in the life of St. Paul. Truly, we can imitate him as he imitated Christ. Meditate on the virtue you need most: generosity, courage, personal love for Christ, faith, perseverance, patience, tenacity, zeal or humility. St. Paul exhibits them all because, by first dying to himself, he could then conform his life so completely to Christ’s life.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know you are my supreme model. However, it helps to look at others who imitated you so well to realize that virtue is within my grasp, that I can be transformed into you despite my limitations and weakness. All I need is faith, love and generosity. Grant me an apostle’s heart.
Resolution: I will contemplate the example of a saint, especially in the virtue I most need.
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