Commentary on the Gospel of
Yesterday, we ended the reflection with a reference to learning to die. Today we are confronted with the necessity of dying. “I place before you life and death,” says the Lord through the book of Deuteronomy. The words call us to choose one over the other; and we know what exactly the Lord wants us to choose—life. But the paradox is, there is no way to life except through death!
This is what Jesus makes clear in the Gospel of the day. He refers to his own voluntarily chosen death. And he demands the same of us: “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. If you choose to save your life, you will lose it; but if you choose to lose your life, you will save it.”
The sole purpose of life is to learn to die.
Jesus is not inviting us to “kill” ourselves. For that would be violence! There is no violence in Jesus or in God, absolutely! So how do we die? We learn to die by learning to love. For, what is love other than learning to delight in the beloved in total oblivion to oneself, desiring only what is pleasing to the beloved? One who falls in love, is entirely taken over by the other. He is filled with the other! His or her thoughts, feelings, and words are all about the beloved. He or she would go any length to care for the other. In fact, he or she would even physically die to ensure that the beloved lives! The truth is, the one in love does not have to force oneself to do so—he or she simply does so, out of love. True love leads to delightful forgetfulness, dying to oneself, for the sake of the other, and in that dying, one is born into fullness of life!