I believe we are all used to what is called ‘hard work,’ and we all know what it means! Hard work means putting in a great deal of effort or endurance to achieve a goal. It is something we do quite often when needed. For instance, in order to pass a exam, students have to work hard by learning in class, doing their homework and studying more at home. To become an elite athlete, one has to work harder on their own and practice the sport regularly to excel in that sport. To stay healthy and live longer, we have to watch what we eat, rest well, exercise regularly and visit our doctor for our checkups. To flourish in any field of life or profession or even life in general, we put in the work as they say and work very hard to achieve that goal. But when it comes to our spiritual lives, we become lax, lazy and even give excuses like I am always tired, distracted or I just have no time because I am very busy. So why is hard work a difficult practice for us in our spiritual lives? Why is it different when it comes to our faith in God? What efforts are we making to deepen our faith in God and to attain the kingdom of heaven? What have we endured in this process of conversion and repentance so as to be better disciples of Christ?

Jesus in today’s gospel reading from the gospel of Saint John 12:20-33 reminds us that hard work and sacrifice is very important in our spiritual lives and in deepening our faith in God by stating “Amen, amen, I say to you, 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” For us to work hard in our spiritual lives and to deepen our faith in God, we have to make more efforts and sacrifices in our spiritual lives to achieve that goal. As Jesus pointed out in our gospel reading today, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” Are you ready to serve God? Are you ready to follow Him? Are you ready to be with Him and be honored by His Father?

My dear brothers and sisters, it is time to be with our Lord, it is time to serve Him and it is time to follow Him more closely by making more efforts and sacrifices in our spiritual lives through Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. But let us first of all remember to repent from our sins, reconcile ourselves with Christ and renew our lives in Him. Amen!