One of the most beautiful sights to behold is a field filled with young stalks of wheat. It is interesting to watch them swaying in the wind and glowing in the sunlight. Yet, how strange is the process by which these stalks of wheat come into existence.
The process begins with the grain of wheat being buried in the cold, damp earth as if in a grave. The next step is that the grain must die or no new life will burst forth. When it dies, a shoot of new wheat miraculously springs forth. It’s an amazing paradox, but it mimics the central paradox of the Christian faith, that being, death begins with life and life begins with death.
Just as the grain of wheat has to die in order to bear fruit, we must die to self if we are to live fully and reach our full potential as human beings.
Death is part of life. We are called each and every day to die a little more to selfishness, to pretense, and to sin. Every time we pass from one stage of life to another, something in us dies and something new is born. We experience death in times of loneliness, rejection, sorrow, disappointment, and failure.
The Gospel tells us that we must forget self, which means to lose oneself, to deny self, to die to self. It is when we forget ourselves that we are most free and experience true happiness in life. It is in getting out of ourselves, and in giving of ourselves to causes beyond our self, that we grow and bear rich fruit for the kingdom.
What a poor world it would be if everyone put their own personal safety, security, and selfish advancement first and last; if no one was prepared to go beyond themselves. It is always because people have been prepared to die to self-interest that the most precious things humanity possesses have been born.
Jesus gives us an example of all of this. His was a life of absolute obedience to the Father, a life of serving others without counting the cost. Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from him. Jesus gave his life out of love for us. The way of love is the way of the cross, and the way of the cross leads to resurrection and glory!
Those who live a life of dying to self will find the moment of actual death easy. The hour of death will become the hour of glory. As the Prayer of St. Francis states, “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
May our Lenten journey finding us dying to self a little more each day so as to truly experience what the joy of the Resurrection is all about come Easter Sunday.
– Fr. Dennis, March 18, 2018