Death and New Life
“Unless” is such a powerful word. Think of how we use it on a daily basis. Often it is a condition for something else to happen. For example, unless the weather changes, I will be there. Unless you clean your room, no video games. Unless you lose the weight, your knee will keep hurting.
Jesus uses the same word unless to describe what needs to die in order for new life to occur. “…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.”
All of us experience “death” experiences throughout our lives. Even Shakespeare said, “Gone are my salad days, when I was green.” We all know that one refers to the death of youth! If you make a list of “deaths” they might include the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, missing a promotion, the end of singleness when you get married, the birth of a child that changes your focus entirely. We can probably name lots of “deaths” be they little or big! Can we also identify the “fruit”—the new life that comes from those deaths?
In order for the seed to become all that God intends it to be, the seed has to give up something of what it was. The same is true for us. In order to be all that God intends us to be, something in us dies or changes too.
Our practice of charity—doing good for others—is often a dying to self. We give up our time to be there for someone else. We put others before ourselves.
We do that in parish life too when we give our time, talent and treasure to keep our parish the hospitable, welcoming, and generous parish it is. Sometimes we let some things die in our traditions and customs to make room for new life.
What can die in us for the sake of new life? What will make that happen? Who will help us?