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Friends, in today’s Gospel, just after announcing that he was about to be glorified on the cross, Jesus declares: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

A seed can exist for a long time—they have found seeds in the tombs of the Pharaohs. But unless they fall into the soil and crack open, nothing further comes of them. Their life is inside, but it’s a life that grows by being given away and mixing with the soil around it. Paradoxically, when you look at a great tree, you simultaneously see none of the original seed and nothing but the original seed, now flourishing.

What does the prince of this world, the devil, tell us? Hang on to yourself. Aggrandize yourself. Stay safe, protected. But Jesus has come to throw out that prince, that principle. He proposes himself as the new prince. His sign is the sign of the cross. The death that leads to transfiguration: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”