5TH SUNDAY OF LENT: JOHN 12:20-33- FIX YOUR MIND ON JESUS.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” The grain, of course, does not actually die, but it is totally transformed into something altogether new roots, leaves, and fruits.
Jesus explains to His disciples that it is by Jesus’ suffering and death brought life to the sinful world. In other words, when we “die” to our selfishness, we “rise” to a new life in Jesus Christ. To be “buried in the earth” means avoiding sin, accepting suffering, and living for others. In the same way, it is by the self-sacrificial lives of holy men and women that life and salvation come to humanity.
St. Mother Theresa’s life was a very good example. Mother was a simple nun, who made a big difference in the world, with her unconditional love for the lost, the poor, and for the sick and dying, by feeding them, clothing them, and nursing their wounds with medicine and love. Mother was dying to herself and rising to Jesus. Mother Theresa was God’s mirror to His people. People saw Jesus through her; she saw Jesus in them. In her loving and dying for them, she received a new life.
Recently, I read a meaningful story: They were two seeds laying side by side in the fertile soil. The first seed said, “I want to grow and produce good fruits! So, I want to send my roots deep into the soil and open up my buds through the earth’s top. I want to grow and sprout my tender buds like signs to announce the arrival of spring. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessings of the morning dewdrops on my petals!” And so, the seed grew and produce good fruits.
The second seed said, “If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my roots deep into the hard soil, it may damage my delicate sprouts. What will happen if I am allowed to open my buds and birds try to eat them? No, it is much better for me to wait until everything is safe.” So, the seed waited… One day, a hen was searching for food, found this seed, and ate it! This short story gives us the message, which is: Those who dream big and think positively will grow and prosper. Those who think negatively and refuse to take any risks and challenges will get swallowed by life!
As the Gospel tells us, the seed first has to fall to the earth before it dies. And that falling is painful, and it demands a lot of sacrifice and self-giving. What happens when we allow those grains of wheat to fall to the ground and die. It is painful, and it seems impossible at times to let go of whatever parts of our lives that are keeping us cold and buried in the ground. But once that seed dies, there is always, always new life. In the Second Reading, St. Paul says that “Jesus offers up prayers with “loud cries and tears.” Are we hearing that? “Loud cries and tears.”
To see Jesus, we have to enter totally into Jesus’s way of thinking, and we have to understand why Jesus had to suffer, die, and rise again. Like the grain of wheat, Jesus had to let go of everything — including his own life — in order to bring life to others. In this process, we will be transformed, just as the grain of wheat — seemingly destroyed — becomes something altogether greater and enriching for others. If we cannot see and accept this as the core of Jesus’ life, we have not really seen Jesus and will never see Jesus in the true sense.
In order to see Jesus, we need to die to ourselves, like a grain of wheat that falls to the ground to produce more. No doubt, we all want to be fruitful: more loving and more forgiving. But, are we willing to fall on our knees with humility and goodwill to serve others, to share what we have, and to allow our roots to go deeper into our relationships?
What does it mean to “die” to ourselves? It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s will must be “crucified” or “put to death.” Life is full of “little deaths.” Let us experience God’s presence personally and let us transform our lives by sacrificing our lives for others that we may discover the real happiness and fulfillment we all long for, by letting go and letting God!