5th Sunday of Lent              

            A priest-friend of mine was about to be transferred to another parish. He confided to me that his assignment was not yet final. Without him asking for it, his Bishop had given him the opportunity to think and pray first, then decide whether to accept it or not. His Bishop was honest enough to tell him that the proposed parish assignment for him was really difficult and he could understand to a certain degree why some priests would refuse to be assigned there.

            To make the long story short… He sincerely prayed over it. His discernment was greatly influenced or impacted by what his spiritual director said: “Find in your heart the courage to make this difficult decision: To die to yourself, to let go of your desire to save yourself with all those conveniences and comforts.” Having heard that, my priest-friend accepted his new assignment.

            In today’s gospel, very much aware of the coming of his death, Jesus says, “The hour has come when the Son of man should be glorified.” Sensing his impending doom, Jesus arrives at a crossroad in his life. It is decision time for Jesus: Will he run away or face up to the call to die? Of course, we know the answer.

            Jesus is the great of wheat that fell to the earth and died and produced much fruit. He died that we might live. This encapsulates or sums up the life of Jesus.

 As followers of Jesus, each of us is called to be “a grain of wheat  that falls to the ground” in order to produce much fruit. We have first to die to ourselves before we can truly live – that is, for us to have life and have it more abundantly. Can we accept that? “Life comes through death.” This is basically what today’s gospel is telling us. This is one basic truth in our Christian faith: We have to die to ourselves to be able to give life.

            Kung ito ang buod ng buhay nit Hesus, ito rin dapat ang maging buod at panuntunan ng buhay natin: kailangan din tayong mahulog, tulad ng trigo, para mamunga nang masagana. We also must die to ourselves to give life to others. “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.”

            We are facing our own crossroad. It is decision time for us. Every day, every moment, is actually a decision time for us. We need to decide how we are going to live and how we are going to die. We are asked to choose: to live for oneself or to die to oneself that others may live?

            Let us put this profound question in more practical terms… Are we to ‘save’ ourselves by getting things for ourselves? Or are we to ‘lose’ ourselves by sharing ourselves, everything we are and everything we have? Are we to ‘save’ ourselves by protecting our own interests? Or are we to ‘lose’ ourselves by promoting the welfare of others? Are we to ‘save’ ourselves by spending our time and energy pursuing our selfish dreams and ambitions? Or are we to ‘lose’ ourselves by letting go of our selfish desires in order to follow God’s will and plan for us? Are we to ‘save’ ourselves by working hard to get and accumulate material things for our security? Or we to ‘lose’ ourselves by living totally dependent on God believing and trusting in the divine providence? Are we to ‘save’ ourselves by staying in our small worlds and comfort zones? Or are we to ‘lose’ ourselves by getting out of ourselves to reach out to others, to minister to the needy, to share in the life and mission of our parish? Again, it is decision time for us: To love or not to love.

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, you tell us that we must lose our lives in order to find them, and to follow you in your way is to take up our cross each day. But, Lord, no one wants a cross; no one wants to suffer; no one wants to die. Most of us would rather choose the easier way to go. Make us a people of faith who lovingly accept all that life has to offer. Help us to realize that all the trials and tribulations that come our way are really invitations to a greater life. There is no easy way out; there are no short cuts to the good life. 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. Amen.          

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