We are fascinated by knowing what is going to happen in the future. Horoscopes are still popular. Even fortune cookies get read with great interest. What’s going to happen tomorrow? Better question, What’s going to happen when we die?
Jesus has the answer. “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.” Death is a kind of tricky reality—the more we think we understand, the less we understand. The majority of us shy away from speaking about the subject. If we are normal, everything in our being fights for life. The law of self-preservation is transcultural. Great advances have been made in the field of medicine. As a result, our life expectancy is higher than ever. So how do we reconcile our desire to stay alive as long as we can with the words of Jesus, “Whoever loves his life loses it, whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life”? Is Jesus saying that we have to hate our life? Countless healings, bringing the dead to life, saving people from being killed: the Lord would not have done such wonders if He intended for us to hate life. Remember that the literal meaning of the Bible is the last one to trust. The real meaning is behind the words. God would not have created life and then demand that we hate what He created. Misdirected priorities have been the problem from the beginning. We tend to forget about our real home. We tend to forget the goal of why we are here. Even if we live to be 100—just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity—which we can never comprehend.
Mystery makes us nervous because mystery draws us beyond our level of understanding. Mystery calls us to the level of trust. Naturally we get nervous. Look at the life of the Master. Jesus trusted the Father all the way to His last breath, even when the pain was unbearable, when the support system fell apart, when darkness fell upon Him. Jesus trusted. He obeyed the Father. In essence, Jesus personified the grain of wheat that was willing to die in order to produce much fruit. However, here’s the twist. We might not be called to die on a cross, but we are still called to trust, still called to obey, to be faithful. Therefore, we try to practice, especially during the Season of Lent. Hope that the words, “Dying to oneself” ring a bell. Mortification is rarely mentioned. Little sacrifices—keeping away from things we crave—trying not to gossip—anticipating others needs. Mortification can be a grace filled moment.
In the “dying” to ourselves everybody wins. Simple stuff, like not looking for a fight. Seems like the closer we get to Holy Week, all hell breaks loose. Tempers flare up over insignificant matters, especially in the family. Just spending time together can have lasting effects. Parents are sometimes disconnected with their children. Everybody’s busy. What’s more important—to vacuum the carpet or spend time with the family? To mow the lawn or have a conversation with your children? Some things can wait while other opportunities will not pass this way again. In dying to ourselves much fruit will be produced—starts now. Pride has been in the front seat too long. The more that we die to ourselves now, the more we will be ready to embrace our mortality. The Lord is guiding us. All we have to do is ask for help. Dying is never easy, so lets practice. Who knows, we might discover a part of our personality that can be patient, caring, and gentle. We might even change for good.
The count down is on. Only a couple of weeks left. A new life can start during Lent. With God’s grace all things are possible.