A WORD FROM THE PASTOR
Loosing and Gaining
Jesus explains to his apostles/to us today that it is by his suffering and death that he is bringing life and liberation to the sinful world, just as a grain of wheat sown in the field ceases to remain itself alone, “just a seed,” by germinating and then growing into a plant which produces many new grains of wheat. In the same way, it is by the self-sacrificial lives of holy men and women that life and salvation come to mankind. In other words, when we "die" to our selfishness, we "rise" to new life in Jesus Christ. To be “buried in the earth” means avoiding sin, accepting suffering and living for others.
One man who learned what there is to lose and gain was an eighteenth-century slave trader named John Newton. Captain of a trans-Atlantic slaving ship, he had everything this world can offer as he made a lucrative living from the brutal business of buying and selling human cargo. John Newton thought that he was on top of the world, but in truth, he was wretched and blind. He lacked the moral clarity to see that he was nothing more than a cynical businessman making money in an evil enterprise. He was allowing the agnostic's law of supply and demand to separate him from his Christian conscience.
Eventually, he was confronted with Jesus Christ, and he was converted to the Gospel truth which makes us free (John 8:32). When Jesus came along and the old John Newton died. A new John Newton was born. He spent the rest of his life crusading to abolish the very business which had proven so enriching. He wrote a number of great hymns, including a familiar one which goes: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see.” An old life was lost and a new one was found, a new life whose melodic fruit remains with us to this day.
What about yourself? What have you got to lose? You've got to die to yourself in order to live with Christ! You've got to sacrifice and give up to gain! So what about it? What have you got to lose? What about selfishness? Shouldn't we lose that narrow-minded little love which only extends to family and friends or stops with our own selves?
The Gospel passage teaches us that new life and eternal life are possible only by the death of the self through obedience, suffering and service. Salt delivers its taste by dissolving in water; a candle gives light by having its wick burned and its wax melted. The oyster produces a priceless pearl by a long and painful process. Loving parents sacrifice themselves so that their children can enjoy a better life than they themselves have had. Let us pray for this self-sacrificial spirit, especially during Lent.