Sermons

Summary: “Lord, protect me from the things I want. If they're not in accordance with your will. ~Amen.”

Lent5B

You can tell that Jesus eat whole grains by his analogy of a kernel of wheat falling to the ground and dying to produce life.

It was in reference to his sacrificial death, but he gives it to us as an over-arching spiritual principle of dying to selfish desires, e.g. like the prayer:

“Lord, protect me from the things I want. If they're not in accordance with your will. ~Amen.”

Dying to selfish desires is a spiritual principle prefaced by Jesus with a “double Amen” for added emphasis.

And, the teaching and example is confirmed by the voice from heaven that some said was thunder, and others said was an angel speaking to him, but Jesus said it was a voice from heaven. In Jewish tradition there is a heavenly voice that declares God’s will, teachings, or commandments to individuals or groups.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains the principle of dying to selfish desires:

“When we die to something, something comes alive within us. If we die to self, charity comes alive; if we die to pride, service comes alive…”

So, we are instructed by Jesus to die to illegitimate pleasures (e.g. pre-marital or extra-marital sex).

For instance, we are to die to illegitimate ambitions (e.g. a young person who wants to get rich quickly through illegal activities.

The grain of wheat dying and then bearing fruit also counsels a “letting go” of one’s life rather than a fearful grasping.

(e.g. a priest said that between age 16 and 20 years, as a science student, he had the legitimate ambition of becoming a civil engineer, in order to help grow his father’s small scale construction enterprise; but he had to abandoned it to respond to God’s call for his true vocation).

In cereal crops like wheat, rice, barley, and oats, the seed is the grain kernel we eat – but it grows on the plant with an inedible husk surrounding it.

When I feel like I need to die to myself over something, I like to think of Jesus being the protective coating that helps me be planted into the ground so I can bury that thing and produce fruit.

I need that visualization so that I don’t think I am dying to self without the Lord’s help.

BECAUSE THE COVERING OF THE SEED WITH SOIL: means the seed is surrounded by darkness, so the seed of our faith is surrounded by ‘darkness’.

This darkness that can surround our steps of faith also reveals our true intentions.

God many times calls us into the dark, so we can behold His glory and all the good that it inhabits: “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20.21). It is in the darkness of faith that we demonstrate our complete trust in God and where He can pour out His abundance.

In prayer, we ask the Lord for help. E.g. Our Responsorial Psalm today says, “Create a clean heart in me, O God,” which is an appeal for inner renewal that will restore one to a life at peace with God, a life of joy and gladness.

And the new covenant of Jer 31:31-34 in our First Reading overturns infidelity in both cause and effect: rebellious hearts are to be inscribed with the law of Yhwh; a disowned people are claimed by God once more.

2). Lastly, holding on to the seed can only lead to trouble. The oldest seed that has grown into a viable plant was a 2000 date palm seed from excavations in the Holy Land. It was germinated in 2005. That was a big delay.

Speaking of delays, a military person said that:

“While I was attending the Army’s Airborne School, an instructor demonstrated all the possible parachute malfunctions one might encounter. A student asked, “If we have a complete malfunction, how much time do we have to deploy our reserve parachutes?”

Our instructor answered, “The rest of your life.”

Sometimes people mistake dying to self for death of self. But self-denial is not self-rejection. He treasures our divinely created self. He doesn’t want to obliterate the part of us that makes us uniquely us.

CONCLUSION – HARVESTING:

St. Paul mentions some of the fruits we may produce: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Gal. 5:22).

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