Dying and rising PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 December 2015 13:47



The week between Christmas and New Year is good time to make a deep and general examination of conscience, so we can see and assess the state of our spiritual life, and figure out what to do to move on.

It’s also a good time to make a most heartfelt thanksgiving because, in spite of whatever, we are still around.

Nothing less than a Te Deum is in order. Let’s hope that the practice is taken more seriously and becomes widespread.

It’s a week where we do, in a more dramatic way, some dying and rising in the tenor of St. Paul’s words: “You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies…” (1 Cor 15,36)

The same truth was expressed more impressively by Christ himself who said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jn 12,24)

We need to accompany the transition of the old year to the new with some dying and rising in our spiritual life, which is actually the law that applies to us in our earthly condition.

We have to learn how to leave behind the old and rotten things of our life, and embrace the new and fresh things. Or better  said, let’s make the old things give rise to the new, like the Phoenix. St. Paul puts it very bluntly: “Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste.” (1 Cor 5,7)

We need to keep on renewing ourselves because no matter how we keep ourselves young, fresh and new again, there are conditions in our life that are beyond our control and they make us old.

And I am not referring only to our physical condition that by definition will degenerate simply with the flow of time. I am referring more to our spiritual life which needs to be renewed constantly because even in its good and ideal condition, it can still degenerate because of our poisonous tendency to be complacent or to be self-satisfied.

That’s when we allow whatever good we have achieved to spoil us. That’s when whatever good we have achieved and have refreshed us for a while, becomes a source of pride and vanity and,  worse, a breeding ground for more insidious forms of malice.

An old philosophical principle can describe that frightening phenomenon. “Corruptio optimi pessima,” the corruption of the best is the worst. That’s why the downfalls of erstwhile heroes and extraordinary people cause greater scandals than those of ordinary people.

The good news is that this principle can have, I believe, its reciprocal: “Conversio pessimi optima est,” the conversion of the worst is the best. The story of St. Paul can lend credence to this.

Let’s hope that this is the principle that we follow more in life.

With God’s grace, let’s be brutally frank to plumb deep into the motivations of our thoughts, desires, plans, words and deeds, and strike out whatever is not in keeping with charity, goodness, mercy as defined and shown to us by Christ himself.

Maybe what is simply needed is some tweaking, some tightening of screws in our spiritual life, some toughening of what has gone unduly soft. Or it could be that we need a major overhaul, a refocusing of our whole life, a reengineering or reinventing of ourselves to conform more to our proper dignity as image and likeness of God, children of his.

In this regard, it’s good to pay close attention to the voice of our conscience. There we can hear God begging us, “My son, give me your heart.” (Prov 23,26. It’s moving to hear God begging of  us to give what is most precious to us, our heart. He does this because he does not impose himself on us. He respects our freedom, which is actually his gift to us, making us precisely his image and likeness.

And on our part, we should not be afraid to give it, knowing that what seems a loss to us by giving our heart to God would actually be a tremendous gain. Christ spoke much about this self-giving that actually enriches us rather than impoverishing us.

So, our attitude should sound like what is expressed in Psalm 50. “Create in me a new heart, O Lord.” If we really know who we are or how we stand before God who is everything to us, I suppose we cannot ask him in a tone other than this.

Let’s not be afraid to die and rise again.