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.