Travelling through the expansive rice fields of Thailand, one will get the idea of a rich harvest. And for those who love our beers, we have a warped understanding of the need for a grain to die to give life. Our worldly life itself is a journey, paradoxically ending in death. Life and death, death gives life. What legacy would we want to leave behind? A rich inheritance of money or a life lived that yields a harvest of wisdom?
“I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest”. (Today’s Gospel).
Lent is a time to ponder about our ordinary life in the context of the Paschal Mystery; of making sense and uniting our challenges and difficulties with the life and suffering, death and rising of Christ. Ordinary life is fraught with challenges and difficulties, it is part of the landscape of life’s journey to death. And for many in our world, unfortunately, the landscape is nasty, suffering is life.
The life of Christ is a lighted path on which we are to travel our earthly life. Follow me. His book of wisdom can be summarized in only four words, “Love God, love others”. Failure to live by this code lead into challenges, difficulties, and sufferings in ordinary life. After all, we are a consequence of what we do and not do to one another. A lot of these are what we have created for each another.
In response, we shaped our defence mechanism, not a fault, and adopt an attitude to look out for ourselves. And that too have evolved over time and experiences. Today many of us are plague by (overly) self-concern, insisting on having things our way, and demanding it as a personal right. When we do all these, we become but a single grain. Dying as a grain brings to awareness a hopeless selfishness ingrained in us.
Everyone has a cross to bear, it is about how we lift it up. Christ did not hand crosses to us. Neither do disciples need to go around purposefully looking to suffer. Our cross form and gain in weight over time through our responsibilities and situation and shaped by our attitude through the various stages of life. We realise that we cannot control a lot in life except our attitude, our inner self.
“And when I am lifted from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself”. (Gospel)
We must not deny that we each have a cross to carry. When we deny and do everything in our inner self to avoid, the inevitable will happen; the cross of life will be saddled on us with its full weight, with us the bearer having no control. As a disciple we are invited to take up our cross and follow; invited to consciously shape the fit of the cross on us. We start by dying as a single grain.
In our inner self, we must lessen self-concern and take up self-denial, and always look out the other. We must embrace the wisdom of Christ. Dying as a grain is dying to self, to live the Paschal Mystery in our ordinary life, embracing death, letting go of a limited life to rise into the fullness of life.
As we continue our Lenten journey, we gaze at the crucifix for inspiration and guidance. On it hung a single grain who died and yielded the harvest of eternal life. We too are invited to be a grain who dies and yield a harvest of wisdom for those around us to journey through their ordinary life into eternal life.
“Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation”. (Second Reading)
5th Sunday of Lent