In this Sunday’s Gospel, people come wanting to see Jesus, and he starts talking about his death--not what they were expecting. We want to see what Jesus has to offer, but we don’t want to see death. Loss is too painful, but Jesus reveals that there is new life hidden in every death, whether it’s the end of a relationship, a dream, or a stage in life. If we are afraid of death, we are also afraid to fully live. We hold back because we’re afraid of failure, rejection, pain, and loss. Through his resurrection Jesus has already conquered death. If we are willing to face loss and death, to lay all that we have and are at the foot of the cross, to entrust our lives to God, then we can become the grain of wheat that bears much fruit. This week, two parishioners and a member of our pastoral service team share their reflections on the question: What in your life needs to fall to the ground and die, so that you can really live fully and abundantly?
I would say that I have a solid faith, but not a fresh one. It is rooted in my parents’ testimony, in my education in a Catholic school, and mainly in my involvement in a Catholic youth movement. There I learned to recognize God’s presence in my life, felt the support of a community, and was encouraged to contribute to making this world a better place. Since then, my faith has remained an important part of my life. I have been lucky to be able to share it with my wife, María, and with my sons, Eduardo and Álvaro, and I can also say that when I have passed through difficult personal or professional moments, my faith has endured and not entered in crisis. Yet now I feel I live my faith in a routine way, so that I am less aware of the role that God plays in my daily life and less open to his demands. That is why I think that my failure to let God surprise me needs to fall to the ground and die. To do this, I know that I have to make room in my calendar full of commitments for silence, prayer, and nourishment of my spirituality.
I love to garden. I see it as a great metaphor for life, and it helps me understand Jesus’s message. Jesus needed to die so that we could bear the fruit of his death. I need to die to the idea that I actually know what’s best for me. I need to remind myself that only God knows what’s best for me. Often I don’t want to go through the pruning process. I am too scared to let go and believe that everything will turn out OK, and then I remember...God has been faithful in the past, so what makes me think that God will be any different in the future? Why do I have to remind myself again and again that the hopes, dreams, and relationships that die in my life, die for a reason, even if I can’t see, feel, or understand why? I believe that faith is not a feeling, nor is it subject to complete reason. I believe that faith requires some level of doubt where all you can do is trust and take that leap with the hope of God’s promise. When the fruit appears, how wonderful it will be!
Someone I loved said something to me that left me devastated, despondent and very much alone. I lost a lot of sleep before calling a therapist I once knew to say aloud words that haunted me. It was a first step. After decades away, I made it to confession, hoping to get past “Bless me, Father….” After some awkward moments, angry at the priest for, what it seemed, directing me to elucidate further in this MY confession (good, another sin, I thought to myself), I hung in there, white knuckles aside, aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence, my sorrow, my need for absolution. As I headed out, dots connecting two seemingly unrelated events stopped me dead in my tracks. And I moved on. And now? Shedding old habits. Letting go of yesterday. Making more room for God. It’s all process. Who but God provides me with a new canvas every morning from which to shape a life? Who but God gives me the grace of insight into my faults, and forgiveness towards others, and self? Who but God lays open my defenses so I can love him more? Pray for those who hate him? Thank him at every turn? Who but God sends angels?
Take your next step: Each week of Lent, we are suggesting a journaling question to respond to. Find 15 minutes when you can be uninterrupted, and grab a pen, mobile phone, or computer. At the top of the page, note, or e-mail, write: “What in my life needs to fall to the ground and die, so that I can really live fully and abundantly?” Write what comes from the heart. Take a few more minutes to talk to God about what you have written, and listen to God talk to you.