So, what did he say: “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.”
This law of life Jesus speaks of is the pattern of loss and renewal, a law that runs throughout our lives and our world. We have all lived this and experienced it, sometimes by choice and other times by chance.
Look at the way this pattern is present in your life.
Have you ever fallen in love and committed your life to another? If so, you had to let parts of your old life go; something of your single life died so that you could be with the other person.
How about parenting? If you are a parent, you know that there are sacrifices of yourself and your life to be made for your child's new life to emerge and grow. We give up parts of ourselves for the other. And then parents are continually letting go of their child, and the child is letting go of the parent, so the child can grow up and flourish.
Have you ever been the caretaker of another? If so, you could name the parts of your life that died so that another might live with dignity, compassion, and love.
What are the costs, the losses you paid for your education or career?
You chose certain losses and let go of some things. Let them die so that other things can arise. We see this same pattern in nature, in the changing seasons: falling leaves and new blooms.
The bible is full of stories of loss and renewal. Abram left his country and his relatives so that he might become a great nation. Renamed Abraham, he became a blessing to all the families of the earth. James and John, Andrew and Peter, left their fathers, boats, and nets to become disciples of Jesus and fishers of women and men. We see the pattern over and over: loss and renewal, dying and rising, leaving and returning. At our Mass each week, we declare it.
Christ has died
Christ has risen
Christ will come again.
Sometimes the most growth in our lives comes when we least expect it. Everyone experiences moments when you look back on them; you think, “I never want to go through that again.” But. I would not trade that experience for anything. Yes, something was hard. Something died but what came from it is a new life. For me, it was a battle with cancer. It transformed my spirit and led me to an unexpected new life. I never want cancer again, but I love what it did for me.
The challenge for us is to become aware that we are where we are by God calling us to be there. God is calling us to let our ego die and know that we are where we are by the grace of God and doing what you do by God’s grace too. It’s in the letting go, the emptying of the stuff of our ego; it’s in the dying to ourselves like a grain falling to the earth that we find the secret to life. Jesus said, if you are devoted to your life in this world, you will lose it. But if you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life.
Letting go of our selfishness allows God to use us to create new life right where we are.
Over the next two weeks, we will see this played out in the miraculous movement in the life of Christ – in his death and resurrection. That’s what he was telling his followers, that he was letting go of this life, moving through death to life; through defeat to victory; through suffering on the cross to the glory of Easter.
That is the secret of life.
Jesus gave his life away for the sake of others so that we might live, and He asks us to do the same, to die to our own selfish needs to share our faith – our life – so others may live.