Gospel Jn 12:20-33

Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies

To those who are acquainted with the sayings of Jesus, the imagery used in today’s Gospel reading is a familiar one, yet often this familiarity can blind us to the astonishing nature of the person of Jesus and the words which he speaks.

Here we witness one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith. It is death that leads to life. How can this be?

In the life of the Church, the Christian is given to him or herself anew. Through baptism, the ‘old man’, as St Paul says dies, and the ‘new man’ is born. We remain ourselves, but in a sense become something much more – we become more ourselves than we were.

There is something deeply troubling in this, as it requires that I give over all that myself have been given. This is the ongoing struggle that characterises Christian existence, but it is also the ongoing joy – to know that I have been made anew, that I can, with the help of the Lord, begin again.

What Christ exemplifies in his death on the cross he in turn asks of us: that we not hold back in our giving – even to the point of death. The teaching of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught as much when they said that man is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, and that he cannot find himself except through a sincere gift of self. [GS, 24]

This Lenten season is an opportunity to practice this dying to self. To give over perhaps little luxuries or preferences, or perhaps big ones. To die to the ‘old man’ within, and receive the gift of new life offered to us.If we die with him we will experience his resurrection. [2Tim 2:11]

‘This is the most fascinating element of the Christian announcement.’

Point to Ponder

‘In the life of the Church, Being, God, the Word made flesh, Christ communicates to man the gift of a more profound participation in the origin of everything. In this way, man remains man but becomes something more. Man within the Church, is offered a “supernatural” participation in Being. This is the most fascinating element of the Christian announcement.’

– Luigi Giussani, ‘Why the Church?’, p. 180