But if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)
Like the grain of wheat, we must die to bring forth fruit. Jesus says that those who love their life will lose it, while those who hate their life in this world will preserve it to life eternal. To an age of self-loathing and a lack of self-esteem the words “hating one’s life” sounds repugnant. However, it does not mean we belittle our sense of dignity or the joy we should have as graced persons. Rather, it means we reject the claims of the “world” which blind us to God’s love and dull our willingness to serve and follow Jesus. When we do this, we become happy, enthusiastic and productive; if we don’t, we become negative, depressed and live purposeless lives; we vegetate and do little or nothing with our talents. Inherent in all transformation, change, and conversion is destruction, and so, dying to self is always painful. Sometimes we want to hold on to an idea, a place, a particular sin or a relationship. Jesus uses this hyperbole to tell us that this life is not the final word. If we die to our comfort, laziness, and personal ambitions—God can take full possession of us and do marvelous, powerful things through us. We become God’s useful instruments in a world which surely needs us today. The daily coverage of the wars and evils in our world tells us that we are living out the passion of Christ in our own time. But we know that suffering and violence, even on a global scale, will not have the last word. We are challenged to build God’s kingdom on earth—a kingdom of truth, love, justice, and peace. Let us become followers of Jesus, not just his admirers.
Jesus, help us die to selfishness and sin!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.