Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 25, 2023 •
John's words should ultimately become our own. In what ways can I decrease, so that Christ can increase in me?
Saint Paul got to a place in his life in which this had totally taken place. Saint Paul said very beautifully: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me." Paul had decreased to such an extent that there was very little of Paul left. It was just Jesus.
One of the fears that we have in the spiritual life is if I really die to myself in this way then what am I? Who am I? I lose myself. Psychologically, this causes people angst and they don't want to let go of that self-identity. "This is who I am! How could God ask me to give this up?"
Most people have no idea what human nature is all about. Let alone, true identity. They don't realize that one of the basic designs God has placed in the whole world is that through death, comes life.
The perfect example of this has always been the seed. A seed is a very specific thing. But in order for it to become what it was meant to be, you have to bury it in the ground (that's interesting, we do that with dead things) and it has to die to being a seed. Once it starts to grow, it's no longer a seed anymore. It's a plant. It's what it was meant to be, but it has transformed. It had to give up its current mode of existence and become what it was ultimately designed to be.
For each of us, there's no difference. We get confused about what it means to be human, to be alive, and be an individual. We don't realize that until we die to these obsessions we have in regards to our own identity and personality, and start to live for Christ, then we'll never find ourselves truly.
Just consider for a moment five saints you know about. All of them sought total death to self and conformity to Jesus Christ. And yet all of them are so unique. No two are alike. Yes in virtue they're alike, but in personality they are all so very different. You don't lose yourself when you decrease in this way as John tells us.
In fact you begin to find your true self in Christ.
Pray for the grace to die to yourself. Start in just small ways. Usually when we think about the things we could give up our initial reaction is: "Uh, but. . . it's mine!! But. . . I like it!" See how easily we find this attachment to something so physical and truly unnecessary.
If I can't detach from earthly things, then how am I going to be ready to die when the Lord asks me to detach from life itself?
This is why so many Christians, sadly, struggle with death. At the end of their life, there they are. They're grasping. Grasping onto life. They don't want to let go. I'm not saying you should throw your life away. But what are you afraid of?
Do you believe that Christ is the resurrection and the life? What are you afraid of?
I'm afraid because I have not yet died to myself. Because I have not yet decreased in the right way. . . .
In our own lives, certainly there are things we are aware of that we are attached to. But, trust me. there is so much more that we can't even perceive it. Now, our Lord is not going to ask every person to give up every last little thing. But are you willing to give it up if He asks for it? That's the question.
Jer 20:10-13; Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35; Rom 5:12-15; Mt 10:26-33
Homily begins at 20:03