When we “die” to ourselves, we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.

The Lenten scripture readings in last two weeks of the season draw us closer to the cross of Jesus. Today the Lord foretells not only the kind of death He was to die, but gives us great insight into the meaning of His life, death and resurrection.
Jesus told His hearers that the hour of His death was approaching. He observed: “I solemnly assure you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24). The burial of the seed in the soil is not its final end, but a time of transition. The life in the seed “dies,” but this death leads to a different life that bears much fruit.

Like the buried seed, His death would hold the promise of resurrection and new life. By submitting to a most cruel and humiliating death, Jesus would take upon His own shoulders the weight of our sins and transgressions and open to us the gates of heaven. Never has the world known such unmerited, unconditional love. And when we draw near to the cross of Jesus through the holy sacrifice of the Mass we are embraced and renewed in that love.

If we want to experience the new life which Jesus offers, then the outer shell of our old, fallen nature must be broken and put to death. In Baptism our “old nature” enslaved by sin is buried with Christ and we rise as a “new creation” in Christ. This process of death to the “old fallen self” is both a one-time event, such as baptism, and a daily, on-going cycle in which God buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death to sin so we might rise anew and bear fruit for God. There is a great paradox here. Death leads to life. When we “die” to ourselves, we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.
We could do no better than to spend these last two weeks of Lent meditating upon these last two weeks of Lent meditating upon the image of our crucified Lord, praying always that we might follow Him wherever He leads, being willing to serve and honor Him by our faithful stewardship of His abundant love.


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