Life is not all about me


By Fr. Francis Mensah
For The Catholic Messenger

Fr. Mensah

On this fifth Sunday of Lent, our Gospel reading focuses our hearts and minds on the holy self-sacrifice of our Lord. Jesus invites us to behold him, bleeding and dying on the cross, as the definitive demonstration of God’s unfathomable love for us. On the cross, we behold a God who has loved us to the end. On the cross, we behold a God who, overcome with love, unconditionally offered his life; so that we might have life, and have it to the full [Jn. 10:10].

Our Lord compares his death on the cross to a grain of wheat, which falls to the ground and dies. We are invited to contemplate the marvelous process that takes place when a grain of wheat is sown. The sun provides warmth and the soil supplies water and oxygen. When the embryo cell is ready to sprout, the seed coat destroys itself, the root connects with the soil, then leaves and the stem emerge to connect with the sun. The sun and the soil continue to “gift” their most precious minerals, until from a single “dead” grain several-thousands of living grains are harvested. Here is an uninterrupted cycle of unconditional love, self-sacrifice and self-giving.

Holy Scripture tells us that, while you and I were still sinners, God so overwhelmingly loved us that he gave his only son. This son, Jesus Christ, while living among us, performed remarkable deeds of love and compassion. He preached the good news to thousands. He turned the hearts of many to God. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He delivered many from the clutches of evil spirits. He fed thousands. He made sinners his closest friends. He washed the feet of sinners. Yet, none of those deeds seemed meaningful enough until he had performed the ultimate act of love: laying down his life for the life of the world. “There is no greater love than this,” he says, “that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends” [Jn. 15:13].


Jesus Christ is the grain of wheat that fell to the ground and died. As we gaze upon him on the cross, bleeding and dying, let us fix our hearts and minds on the one thing that truly matters in life: love, self-giving, self-sacrifice. St. Paul reminds us that we may possess the whole world, with all of its power and treasures, but if we do not lay down our lives for the sake of all, it does us no good. “Whoever loves his life will lose it,” says the Lord, “but whoever hates his life will keep it for eternal life” [Jn. 12:25]. What profit would there be for us to gain the whole world but lose our souls?

We, human beings, remain sad and alone until we have offered everything we are and all we have for the sake of the people around us. Our lives will forever remain empty and barren until we have become God’s wheat, food for others, and a willing sacrifice with and for Jesus Christ (St. Ignatuis of Antioch). You and I are the only creatures on earth that God willed for himself; therefore, we cannot fully find ourselves except through a sincere giving of ourselves (GS. 24). Sadly, we often forget this; and we spend our short lives here on earth seeking ourselves and pursuing our self-centered interests.

Life is not all about me; it is equally — even more — about the people around me. So, we pray with St. Francis and we say, “O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.

(Fr. Francis Mensah is pastor of St. Peter Parish in Cosgrove, St. Mary Parish in Oxford and St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg.)

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