Wearing masks, not wearing masks, and all the mixed emotions that have come with the coronavirus reveal that—as a society—we lack freedom from the fear of death.
“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.” John 12:24
Death does not necessarily sound all that inviting to most people. So, how should we look at death?
First of all, death, literally speaking, is a passing from this world to the next. When our time comes in accord with the will of God, we should welcome it and anticipate our full immersion into the life of God.
But this Scripture passage speaks of death on another level. We should see ourselves represented by the grain of wheat that achieves its potential only by falling to the ground and dying. In that natural act, it is planted in the fertile soil and grows, producing an abundance of good fruit.
How should we see ourselves represented in this natural action? We do so by embracing death to self so that we can be planted in the fertile soil of the grace of God and produce an abundance of good fruit.
Dying to oneself means that we let go of all selfishness in life. First, all intentional acts of selfishness must be let go, but then even unintended selfishness must be let go. What is “unintended selfishness”?
Unintended selfishness is a way of referring to everything in life that you hold on to and cling to simply because you want it for yourself. This could include even good things such as a loving relationship. It’s not that we should do away with good things in life, such as loving relationships; rather, we must not cling to anything, even good things, for selfish motives. Love, when it is authentic love inspired by God, always is detached and selfless, looking only toward the good of the other. This is the purest death to self that we can live. When this level of love is lived, that of complete selfless detachment, God enters into our lives and into each particular situation of our lives, bringing forth an abundance of good fruit. This is a gift that is more powerful than anything we can do on our own, because it is the fruit of a total death to self, transformed by God into new life.
Lord, I give myself to You and Your holy will in a total and sacrificial way. I choose to die to self so that You can bring forth new life from this act of selfless surrender. Take me, dear Lord, and do with me as You will. Jesus, I trust in You.
Reflect, today, upon your calling to die. First, reflect upon the literal death from this world that you will one day experience. Do not fear that moment; rather, see it as a glorious transition into the fullness of life. Second, look for ways that you can die to yourself, here and now. Identify practical and concrete ways that God is calling you to this form of death. Know that in this act, glorious gifts of new life await.