Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letting Go of Self

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB.

In the Gospel we hear Jesus say, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies it produes much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” So often we hear people say “I want to be fulfilled.” But what does that mean? I want my ego to be full. When we lay down our lives and no longer look to see that we are full, when we look totally to Christ, we will lose our lives, but in truth we gain it totally for eternal life.

We can all know this in our heads, but how can we practice it in reality? St Benedict says that we should always look for the good of another first. When we do this we lay down a little bit of ourselves—that’s a little seed scattered. If we keep doing that, at the end of our life we’ll have a field of wheat.

I read somewhere that a martyr said that if you’re going to die for Christ you have to keep your eyes on the present moment exactly and not look too far ahead because it would scare you. That’s why they continually repeat the name of Jesus or some other prayer so that they’re not thinking of what it’s going to cost, but rather keeping their eyes on the goal. And so for us in everyday life, as we try to fulfill our own lives, if we keep thinking about ourselves then we’re constantly saying “I want, I want ,I want, I need, I need, I need.” While these wants and needs may be very valid, the extent towhich we keep thinking about them is the extent to which we have to fill them (and it goes to infinity). Rather, when we hear our ego clamoring: “Hey pay attention to me, you aren’t look at me long enough,” we should say, “That’s right, I’m going to look at Christ.”

That’s the only way we can let go of ourselves. We have to continually turn back, to convert to Christ. That’s a lifetime’s worth of work, but it begins with each moment.

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