5TH SUNDAY OF LENT – B
“Unless a grain of wheat grain falls into the ground, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”
That grain of wheat was Jesus who died and became the Living Bread for humanity. In becoming man (Incarnation), Jesus had to die to himself as an expression of his unwavering obedience to the Father. His whole human existence was a continuous emptying of self (Kenosis) until there was nothing more to give but to embrace the ultimate death that would define not just his existence but our existence and destiny as well. The "rich harvest" was salvation for humanity.
“Whoever serves me, must follow me, and my servant will be with me wherever I am.”
Love is the continuous longing to be with a beloved. It is the desire to be in union with the one we love that defines and shapes our consciousness. It is because we are like an angel with one wing and we can only fly by embracing our beloved. But to embrace is to open our heart to the sword that will eventually pierce it. In simple terms, we cannot love unless we die unto our selves. Our deepest joys come from loving. But it comes with a price: to embrace many forms of dying to self moment after moment for the sake of those whom we love, knowing that they live from our heroic deaths.
In many forms of human love, our ultimate desire that will give the definitive meaning to our existence is the highest form of love which is Love himself, God! Now we understand why in the course of time there have been countless people who left everything in following Jesus. To those who love Jesus, there is no price so dear that they will not pay, because “Love alone is credible” (Hans Urs von Balthsar).
Let us imagine this scene from the classic movie Fiddler on the Roof: Tevye and his daughter are waiting for the train at the railway station:
Tevye: And he asked you to leave your father and mother and him in that frozen wasteland Siberia? And marry him there?
Daughter: No Papa, he did not ask me to go. I want to go.
How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do, what I do
Why I must travel to a distant land
Far from the home I love.
There were my heart has settled long ago
I must go, I must go
Who could imagine I’d be wand’ring so
Far from the home I love?
Yet there with my love, I am home.
Somewhere in our journey through life, each one of us must have stood in that railway station responding to the radicalism of love. In one time or another, have we not left our home, said goodbye to our friends and long cherished dreams or careers and died to ourselves… all for the sake of the one we love? It takes more than courage to let go of our comfort zones and enter into the unfamiliar and the unknown… because of the call to love.
St. Francis reminds us:
For it is in giving that we receive,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life….