September 30, 2020

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When we were baptized, we were baptized into Christ’s
death. Take a moment to ponder these profound words.
We were baptized into death. In every sense of the word,
we are asked to die. This is not just about our final death
but about daily deaths due to inconvenience, discomfort,
pain, loss, or others’ needs. This is an incredible epiphany
given the way we very often approach our lives. We do
everything to avoid death, let alone encounter it! Many
avoid pain, discomfort, inconvenience, uneasiness, change,
interference, and suffering of any kind. We put a lot of
energy into finding the easiest and least inconvenient way
through many things. Even holding the door open for a
stranger or saying hello to someone in the store can be
major undertakings.
We are called to die. One of the biggest wake-up calls we
can have is realizing that life is not about us! There are
millions of other people sharing life on this planet with
whom I have a relationship. Does my life celebrate those
relationships? The most distracting question we can ask is,
“What do I want to do?” The more focused, faith-filled
question is, “What do I need to do?” What I need to do may
not be what I want to do. However, asking this question
more frequently will teach us how to more purposefully
and intentionally live so we can be a life giving vessel for
others. When we learn to live more sacrificially, to put the
needs of others before our own, and to not always seek our
own self-interest, we become aware of what baptism into
Christ’s death is really all about. These are the roots of
virtue and the seedbed for justice, tolerance, solidarity,
love, and peace.
Learning how to accept all the “small deaths” and sacrifices
life calls us to teaches us how to approach our final death.
All deaths ask us to empty ourselves into something or
someone else. Whether we empty ourselves into the heart
and soul of another human being or empty ourselves into
God at the moment of our final death, new life is always
received and nurtured. A heart that exclusively seeks its
own interest is a heart that is closed to love. A heart that
pours itself out to others and is content with being emptied
is a heart that has been touched by and open to mercy. It is
a heart that overflows with joy.