When you ask people “Who wants to go to Heaven?” most if not everybody will likely answer, “Me!” And when you follow-up with a “Who wants to die?” many will answer, “No”, or a reluctant “Not yet.” This is despite knowing that one can only go to Heaven by dying first, as death is a necessary step.
Facing death is one of the most terrifying moments that one can ever imagine, especially for those who haven’t meditated and thought well about it. Admittedly, anyone can be scared, for who can say with confidence that he or she is ready to die? Life despite its challenges is still worth living, we would say. You are far more comfortable in your present situation than going through a phase that is unknown and full of uncertainties.
In the Gospel (Jn. 12: 20-33), Jesus said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”
The Lord is talking about dying to one’s self, to selfishness and to pride. He is referring to everything in the world that you hold on to, because you want it for your own. We should remember that everything that we have is not ours, but are only lent to us. God lends, He takes back. These include even the possessions that you say is yours because you’ve worked hard for it. It’s not bad to have things but when you cling to such as if your life depends on these, your intention becomes selfish. These include even our loved ones, who are lent to us for a time. When we are good stewards, we know that we are only temporary owners and should be ready to submit these up when the Lord calls for it. God also has intentions for them that we must not deprive others to experience His goodness nor take these away. We are meant to be the hands of God to other people. When we are inspired by the Spirit to have this attitude of self-denial, our heart becomes pure such that God enters and possesses our lives completely and yield an abundance of good fruits.
Our lives are meant to be like Jesus: empty of self, obedient, and submissive to the Father’s will. Take what our Lord said at that moment, but in the end He was still obedient to God the Father,
“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
The mood is somber as we go deeper into Lent. The Scriptures (First Reading) assures the faithful that God desires for us to instill these values in our hearts,
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31: 31-34)
We are no longer to be dependent on the “stone tablets” but God desires the law to be written in our hearts. We are called to obedience and submission to the Father, like His Son Jesus, whose suffering and death on the Cross was a fulfillment of His total reverence to God, out of love for the Father (read Second Reading, Heb. 5: 7-9).
Today, as we approach nearer the Holy Week, let us reflect on the challenge of letting go of all selfishness in our lives. Let us reflect on our own death that we will one day experience.
Lord God, grant me the wisdom to be more giving of myself, obedient and becoming submissive to Your will for my life. Amen.
“Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be.” (Jn. 12:26)