This is a curious combination: the “grain of wheat” falling into the ground and dying, and the strange comment that those who “hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” And yet within those two metaphors lies the secret to eternal life with Jesus.
This gospel (John 12:20-33) is all about transformation. Jesus is the transforming power in our lives, if we accept his love and receive him in the nourishing Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. But first we must change our inner attitudes, or the basic way we look at life. Jesus wants us to see all of life through his eyes, the eyes of love. We’re not fully human, the way God created us to be, until we can surrender ourselves to His will. It’s a growth process, and one which some people resist to the end of their days.
To become fully human means that we must rid ourselves of all selfish attachments—and yes, we all tend to have such attachments! Lent is a great opportunity to check our selfish desires. One example of this is that some people let their sensual desires block out the official teachings of the Church Magisterium. So, they ignore teachings that point out why contraception is wrong, and why it is fundamentally a self-serving tendency that is forbidden by the moral law.
It’s in areas of behaviour like this, areas where moral teachings call us to grow and surrender; to “die” to selfishness, so that new life—just like the grain of wheat—can blossom in abundance from the transforming power that comes from Jesus in response to our humility and obedience. This always calls for real faith.
Even in our prayer life, when we have no taste for prayer and it feels very tedious, we cling to Jesus in sheer faith. We believe that the “glory” of Jesus showed itself in the Passion and Resurrection – dying and rising to a new life – and with that glory comes our redemption.