When we assist in giving life to others … we allow God to give life to ourselves


When we assist in giving life to others … we allow God to give life to ourselves

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) – June 30, 2024

What happens when we die?  Is it the end?  Perhaps, closer to home, the bigger question is: what does it mean to live?  ARE YOU LIVING?  Or are you just surviving?

When young people go to University, they sometimes go crazy with a party “lifestyle”, lurching from one party to the next.  Some even fail their studies.  In the beginning, it all seems so much fun: no more school discipline and away from my parent’s control: wow, I’m free!!

But what does my life mean?  Let’s check out the Gospel.

When you read the Gospel it’s like a sandwich: it starts with the little girl very sick and finishes with the girl dying and rising again.  In the middle (the sweet jam in the sandwich), there is the story of an older lady, suffering for many years, suddenly being cured!  Fantastic!!!

This teaches us that God is not just interested in our ability to live forever after death, but God wants us to truly LIVE, not just survive, while here on earth: the cure of the older woman allowed her to live a normal life with opportunities and freedom to choose how she will live.

The current social unrest by the younger generations in Kenya are largely because the Government actions have made life more difficult for them: they are fighting to LIVE.

The plan of God is always a plan to LIVE: a happy life!  But what does it mean to be happy?
A happy life has a balance of rest and fun, appreciating others, working and achieving things, contributing to community, sometimes pain: building hope and a great feeling of being valued.

Emotionally, to be happy (to LIVE), we must: 1) love and be loved, 2) feel we belong, 3) have fun, 4) achieve things and 5) embrace a higher power in our way of thinking and feeling.

Question for each of us: what am I doing/ choosing that reduces my ability to truly LIVE?

Many of the Oblate youth members are great role models for showing the difference between surviving and living.  Most of them, from an outsider perspective, are just surviving: always short of money, working many hours to make enough to eat, etc.

But can a person who is just surviving, be as generous like these courageous youth?  They are forever giving their time, cash and energy to make a difference for those who are struggling.  In spite of their challenging conditions of life, they still think of others: they are LIVING.

Coming back to the reflection on leaving school and enjoying a party lifestyle at University: does seeking pleasure make my life meaningful?

After some time of a party lifestyle most people slow down the frequency of parties and look for more meaningful things to do.  The party lifestyle becomes boring, (focus is all on me), but when we make a difference in someone else’s life, their gratitude transforms us.

Meaningful pleasure is our reward flowing from the sacrifices we make for our development, or for the good of others.

The sign of a person destined for greatness is one with impulse control: the initial human instinct is to seek what is easy and what is sweet: to only focus on the here and now.

But, to live well today, requires the sacrifice of something for tomorrow.  However, let us be careful: that we make the sacrifice of ourselves, not cause others to sacrifice; eg. don’t work so much that we neglect our family: presence, not money, is most important.

In the first half of life, we need to acquire a lot of knowledge, wisdom and even a modest amount of material things to sustain ourselves and our family to come.

However, when we grow older (the second half of life), to find happiness requires us to give away our knowledge, skills and wealth.  Happiness increases as we empower others.

Our readings today reveal that Jesus is the bridge between earthly life and eternal life with God.
But that’s not the main role Jesus came for: ie. when I die, I walk over the bridge of Jesus and reach Heaven!  No, Jesus is the bridge to sustain my life with God while in the earthly flesh.

That means, instead of walking over Jesus, we imitate Christ by serving others:
I came not to be served, but to serve.

We can keep fighting issues like Euthanasia, abortion, the death sentence, wars, etc. and make little headway.  But when we choose to live as servants of others and show the joy in our lives, people will be attracted and change.  Let us choose to LIVE with joy as we help others.

By Gerard Conlan, OMI