A beautiful sight to behold during the seasons of summer and autumn is a field of wheat. To watch the stalks swaying in the wind and dancing in the sun brings joy and hope to the human heart. However, the process by which these stalks come into existence is somewhat strange. It is here that we see once again how nature is our teacher.
The grain of wheat must be buried in the cold damp soil as in a grave. Then it has to die. If it does not die, no new life will come forth from it. When it dies, from the grave of the old grain, a shoot of new wheat miraculously springs forth. It speaks of the great paradox of our Christian Faith; death begins with life and life begins with death!
Looking at the grain of wheat that must die in order to produce fruit, so we must die to self if we are to live fully and fruitfully, and realize our full potential as human beings and children of God.
Death is part of life. We are born to die, to die that we may live more fully; born to die a little each day to selfishness, self-centeredness, pretense, and to sin. Every time we pass from one stage of life to another, something in us dies and something new is born.
When Jesus said, "Whoever loves one’s life loses it, and whoever hates one’s life in this world will preserve it for eternal life," he is not telling us to hate ourselves or our life. We are created in the very image and likeness of God and therefore should love who we are. God desires us to be gentle and merciful with ourselves. If we don't love ourselves we will not be able to love others. Of course, we need to distinguish between true love of self and self-centeredness.
To forget self, to rise above self is to lose oneself, to deny self, to die to self. It is in getting out of ourselves, in dedicating ourselves to causes beyond ourselves, that we grow and bear fruit for the Kingdom.
What an impoverished world this would be if everyone put their own personal safety, security, and selfish advancement first and last, if no one was prepared to go beyond oneself. It is always because people have been prepared to die to self-interest that the most precious things humanity possesses have been born.
Jesus is our model. Jesus gave the totality of his life serving his Father and us. Jesus' life wasn’t taken from him. He gave it, all of it, out love for the Father and each one of us. The way of love is the Way of the Cross. The Cross is the doorway to resurrection and glory.
Those who live their life dying to self will find the moment of actual death easy. The hour of death will become the hour of glory. As the prayer says, "It is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
– Fr. Dennis, March 21, 2021