Bill and Jim lived across the street from each other. Sunday morning after Sunday morning they would be getting into their cars about the same time.
Jim would call out, “Bill, how about going fishing with me?”
Bill always replied, “Thanks, Jim, but I am going to Mass.”
After several Sundays of the same scenario Jim walked across the street with this complaint: “How come, Bill, I've invited you to go fishing with me, but why you have never invited me to go to church with you?”
When is the first time -- or the last time you invited anyone to come with you to mass? (Jokes Priest can tell Vol. 8 # 162).
St. John is telling us that some Greeks came to Philip and asked, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” These Greeks want to see Jesus. Philip and Andrew help them. This request to see Jesus is being asked of us as well. The world and many people are presenting this request to all of us: “We would like to see Jesus.” The children of our parish are presenting this request to us, “We would like to see Jesus.” There are people awaiting us to invite them to join us. Others are looking up to us to find Jesus. Can we show them to the Lord Jesus? Unlike Philip and Andrew, we cannot simply take them to Jesus so that they can see his face, hear his voice, or feel his physical presence. Rather, we can show Jesus to them in our attitudes, our actions, our convictions, our faith and our way of life. Some Christians are engaging in the battle against the atheists, fighting and arguing with unbelievers who disagree with our faith. Sometimes the battles and the arguments become ugly, and they forget to present the true image of Jesus Christ in life.
Dr. Haddon Robinson once told the story of a writer for a newspaper in Toronto, Canada who undertook an investigation into the ethical practices of auto repair shops in his town. He took a spark-plug wire off of his engine, making the car run unevenly. He took the car in to different shops and asked them to fix it. Time after time people sold him unnecessary repairs or charged him for repairs that were not done. Finally, he went to a small garage. A fellow named Fred came out, popped open the hood, and said, “Let me listen to that thing.” After a few seconds, he told the reporter, “I think I know what’s wrong.” He reached down and grabbed the wire, announcing, “Your spark-plug wire came off.” And he put it back on.
The reporter asked, “What do I owe you?”
“I’m not going to charge you anything,” Fred replied. “I didn’t have to fix anything; I just reattached the wire.”
The writer then told Fred what he was doing and that he had been charged all kinds of money by mechanics looking at that same wire. He asked Fred, “Why didn’t you charge me anything?”
Fred said, “Are you sure you want to know? I happen to be a Christian and believe that everything we do should be done to glorify God. I’m not a preacher and I’m not a missionary, but I am a mechanic and so I do it honestly. I do it skillfully and I do it to the glory of God.”
The next day in the newspaper was a headline that read, “Christian Mechanic, Honest to the Glory of God.” (Tommy Nelson, The 12 Essentials of Godly Success. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), p. 148.
What image of Christ are you revealing? The only way to reveal the true Christ to others is to learn from Jesus and follow his instruction: “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.” Jesus is saying that He is the grain of wheat. He falls into the ground of the world and dies. He dies for our sins to bear much fruit. He sets an example for us. That is the way to bear fruit. He wants us to learn from him to die to our own sins so that we can bear fruits. It is only being death to sin, death to selfishness, even death to lesser goods in life for the sake of greater ones, that we can reveal the true image of Christ to the world.
Dying to ourselves means putting our lives in God's hand, and following God's commandments. Dying to ourselves means, for example, if your marriage is falling apart and you need outside help but are too proud to ask for help, dying to yourself means dying to your pride and seek help. If friends are telling you that you are developing a drinking problem but you keep denying it, in spite of mounting evidence, dying to yourselves means admitting your problem and seek medical help. If a friend or a family member has hurt you in some way and you are holding a grudge against him or her, dying to yourselves means forgiving that person from the heart and treat him or her with love once again. If you are addicted to some drugs, alcohol, or anything bad and don't want to give up, dying to yourselves means giving up those things for the sake of loving God. If you are involving some sinful activities, dying to yourselves means let go of those activities and live a good holy life.
Dying to self is not easy. No one said it was. Even Jesus didn't find it easy to agree to do what his Heavenly Father wanted him to do. But it is the condition for us to bear fruit and to be made perfect and born into eternal life. The Second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews today tells us that Jesus is exactly the proof of that. “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him”(Heb 5:8-9).
We become perfect gifts to God and to others by sacrificing ourselves. The more we sacrifice ourselves the better gifts we become to God and to others. You become a perfect gift to your spouse when you satisfy every need, every request, and every desire of your spouse. That means doing whatever your spouse expects you to do. You become a perfect gift to your parents when you do everything your parents expect of you. If you don’t believe me, try it. This is the same way with God. God will be happy and pleased with us, if we learn to dedicate ourselves to Him through obedience, by seeking and doing his will in every decision we make in every day of our life.