Fifth Sunday of Lent | Year B

Posted on March 15, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

The seed has to be buried first—a seed can exist for a long time without being buried. In 2005, a 1,900-year-old date palm seed found at a historical site near the Dead Sea in Israel was geminated.1

Dying to self is the seed dying.

E.g. A friend’s husband ordered a monogrammed cup with the initials DTS on it. It stands for “Die to Self” from 1 Cor. 15:31 where St. Paul says, “I die daily.’2

They tried to bury us but they did not know we were seeds.

When you can take correction, when you can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, with no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart—that is dying to self.3

After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving. Catechism 1609

Do you, Gardener, take this shared garden, of your lives, to weed together from this day forth?

E.g. in a Team Ministry of Husband and Wife, the couple shares- “We make an active choice to trust the Holy Spirit and His ministry through our spouse. We never correct one another publicly—we discuss and debate when we are alone. Most of the disagreements we’ve had had been due to a lack of communion or assuming the other meant something they did not. Ministering as a team requires getting over all petty jealousies, all competition with one another and dying to self.”4

Dying upward is a Catholic idea of responding in surrender to resist temptations. The embracing of higher things always implies death to the lower form of life. It means dying upward of ourselves. We could never pass from this lower plane to the higher. The ability to do this was given us and baptism, when the seed of the incarnate life was sown in our nature, then was given us the power to overcome our weakness to do things by which our own nature we could not do Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, which can be accomplished only in the soul which has surrendered its whole being to this divine energizing influence.5

Jesus uses a double Amen which means “I solemnly assure you.” To say the seed must die for abundant life to result.

In our day, the general thrust of psychology is towards self-development, growth as a person. This seems directly to contradict the teaching on the death of the wheat-grain.

The death of the grain occurs in union with Christ’s death. This involves a progressive purification of the heart.

Mental mechanisms defend the ego against the pain of facing reality: they are processes of perceiving, reasoning, judging and acting that serve to bolster the crumbling ego. We cannot but be aware of the problems of relationship, affectivity, values and action in which we are immersed, though we may be quite unaware of the full extent and depth of our conflicts; and the ego cries out for protection. And hence the flight from reality. The answer is that by faith and guided by it, a Christian is obliged to let go, to put himself into hands that are not his own of letting oneself go into the hands of God, which is easier when human trust has been learned.6

Self-development cannot be the purpose, but it may be a product of the seed dying to produce new life, trusting in the process of God’s Word.

1.      Newsweek, Feb 05, 2020

2.      3 Ways to Die to Self in Marriage,

3.      source unknown

4.      from a Catholic publication

5.      Sister Mary John, Jamestown, North Dakota Orate Fratres, 1936, vol 3

6.      Lachlan Hughes, The Grain of Wheat, The Way; T13 no 1 Jan 1973, p 3-11