Monday, March 9, 2015
By Death We Grow
Friends of Faith:
Which came first, dying or growth?
In the world of plants, first the seed must die before the flower can grow and fully bloom.
How true is that of humanity? When do I as a person grow? When do I as a person grow closer to God?
“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Rom 5: 5-8
I have seen untimely deaths and I have witnessed the growth that took place in the people closest to the one who died. I have seen children give up careers to take care of their parents and through the response of their faith they are blessed with strength and courage to respond with love while having their own needs fulfilled by the blessings of others.
I have witnessed those affected by illness and hardship. When there was hope and faith, God’s love poured out through them – growing not only those directly affected, but inspiring others to become more, and to grow in their own faith. I have seen friends and neighbors receive the blessings of tears and smiles of joy while helping one another recover from natural disasters or an untimely death. (It is better to give than to receive, or, we receive more in giving than we do in receiving.)
As spouses (or faithful friends) the love we have for each other grows when we give up something of ourselves FOR the other: when we sacrifice our time and our energy to help one another without anger, jealously, or envy. We grow when we build the other person up, when we rise to the responsibility of becoming parents, and when the needs of our spouse or family member becomes our own concern, like sacrificing a personal career goal for taking care of a family member.
In each of these instances some part of our selfish person dies. In each of these instances some part of our selfish personality dies – to become less of ourselves, to rely more on God, and to grow in faith.
Heavenly Father, in hope we ask for the courage and strength to die to ourselves and accept our sufferings and sacrifices as Your Son, Jesus did when He died on the cross for us. “O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.” (Prayer of St. Francis) Amen.
Without Christ’s death our sins would not be pardoned; without Christ’s death there would not be new life. Without the death of a seed the plant cannot grow. Without the death of my selfish desires I will not grow to receive the love of another.
In the middle of this Lenten season, may I learn to find greater hope through the experience of a death of self, so that I may grow deeper in faith, gain a greater love for God and have peace in the knowledge that Christ’s death was given so that I might live.
In faith and hope, dying to grow,