Friday, February 16, 2007

Out of Death into Life

I have always loved the image of the grain of wheat falling into the earth, dying, and then rising and bearing much fruit. This is the pattern of cold winter nature, of snowfalls and of hidden tulip bulbs and bare tree branches.

It's also the pattern of our life with God. Death to self is the pathway by which the fruit of God's love and mercy are borne in our cold, hard, dead lives. This is also the only pathway God's love takes in order to bring Himself into being in the world.

"Like the Church itself, the sacraments of the Church are the fruit of the dying grain of wheat (Jn 12:24). In order to receive them, we must enter into the movement from which they themselves come. That movement consists in losing oneself, without which it is impossible to find oneself: “Whoever would preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will preserve it.”

This word of the Lord is the fundamental formula for a Christian life. When all is said and done, to believe is to say “yes” to this holy adventure of “losing oneself”. In its quintessence, faith is nothing other than true love. Thus, Christian life receives its characteristic form from the cross.

The Christian opening to the world, which today is so extolled, can find its true model only in the Lord’s open side (Jn 19:34), the expression of that radical love, which alone is able to save."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) Lenten Message, 1969.

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