I was standing at the bus stop with a box of confectionaries when a group of urchins started milling around me. I passed the box to the leader, a ten-year old girl, whose eyes lit up. I was sure that she would devour the contents. Surprisingly she distributed them to her younger siblings and deprived herself of the treat, but sported a broad smile seeing her siblings relishing the cakes.
The concept of ‘Dying to Self’ is the essence of Christianity—it is about dying to the baser instinct within us. This dark side is about self-indulgence. We are bombarded constantly with advertisements and the media inviting us to splurge on clothes, foreign trips, jewellery and enjoyment. We are selfish. That is why Jesus said, “How hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God…” We are corrupt and harbour greed, hatred and revenge.
During Lent, we are reminded with grace from above, to give up our sinful lives. When we die to ourselves by making sacrifices such as fasting and abstaining from meat and alcohol, we are working towards being better people and towards our future joy with Jesus for eternity.
John the Baptist welcomed new converts; immersing them in water and then pulling them out. The immersion symbolised dying to a sinful life and coming out of the water symbolised the resurrection. So, in Baptism itself we are given the message that our vision of life should not be myopic. It should not confined to this world, but to the hereafter.
Dying to Self during Lent implies making sacrifices, sometimes for others, not with a long face and boastfulness like the Pharisees, but willingly and cheerfully like the ten-year old girl.
by Monica Fernandes