There are three physical states of matter of which most are familiar with: solid, liquid and gaseous.
Water is a substance that has these three distinct states. When subjected to a temperature below 32 degrees F, water becomes ice. When that temperature reaches 212 degrees F, water boils and becomes steam (gas). And anywhere in between, water is in its natural liquid state. Yet in either state of being it still maintains its H2O identity.
When a seed is planted in soil and properly nurtured, the process of germination takes place. This process changes a seed from its dormant state to a growing, living plant. Although it will not be recognized in its original form, the characteristics of the seed will be manifest in the plant that it matures into. For example, wheat seed will become wheat. Wheat will not become barley. Although they are harvested in the same manner, they are obviously not the same.
What can be said of water and wheat, as their states of being are altered by a change of temperature or the process of germination, is that they experience death. Ice dies to itself when it melts and transforms to liquid, and liquid water dies to itself as it evaporates and transforms to gas(vapor). Wheat in seed form, after planting, dies to itself through gemination and transforms into a living plant. Neither is lost forever, because they are still present; only in a different form.
Newton’s Law of Conservation of Energy states that: “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it simply changes from one form to another.” Here both examples are validated by the truth of this law.
We too, are in a process of changing states. However, our changing states of being are not as obvious as the examples before us here. Yes we age, and are effected by disease and accident, or find ourselves to wealth or poverty. Yet our physical state is not drastically altered as that of water or seed.
Our transformations more readily occur within; though they are reflected without. A change of attitude, a change of mind, a change of heart are accomplished by a second thought motivated by a right reasoning will; which acts as a catalyst similar to the temperature change of water or the planting of the seed. In this way we die to a form of ourselves and come alive to another. We transform from a state of self-concern to one of other-concern. And as the results of these altered states of being attain some greater good for water and seed, so too do we.
The various forms of water and those of the seed, perform unique and valuable functions that are essential to life. Our own converted state of being can transform one from self-serving to servant, which is especially essential to life. Thereby each attains its intended greater good.
“You accepted the truth, you confessed your sins, you perfected your spiritual life, and lo! in those moments when you thought you were losing everything, you found everything; when you thought you were going into your grave, you were walking in the newness of life…The antiphon of the Empty Tomb was striking the chords of your heart. It was not you who died; it was sin. It was not Christ who died; it was death.” – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen