When The Grain Of Wheat Dies, It Produces Much Fruit
In Lent we have been speaking about various needs that we have as creatures in this series called “Needy.” We have a need for God that can easily be covered over in our culture today. We also have a need for work, even if we are independently wealthy, and the need for rest on the Sabbath day. Often we shortchange ourselves on these needs and this can lead us into looking for illegitimate ways to fulfill these needs. Last week we considered the need for healing because of past hurts and wounds usually from our childhood, and we don’t know how to process those wounds. Bringing them to the light is perhaps the most effective way to deal with them. This can be in a conversation with a priest or a friend, or in the Sacrament of Penance or with a counselor who is trained to help us. Prayer is also a very important means to heal our sins or the sins of others.
This week we will speak about another kind of need that may sound a bit contradictory. Jesus is speaking about his upcoming passion and death, which starts next week on Palm Sunday. And he says, “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 (John 12:23).” It is a paradox that we hear often in the Bible, and yet quite true in all aspects of life. To lose weight we have to die to our love of sweets and French fries. To get out of debt we have to die to our desire to spend and get new things. To get better in better shape we have to die to our desire to be comfortable. A certain kind of death is required to bring something else to life.
A parent today ought to help his/her child to know how to suffer, and how do we do this? By entering the suffering that faces us each day as a Christian, without complaint, without exaggeration. The kids and others will learn from what they see you do, not so much what you say.
To die to myself means to break myself open, to not be afraid to go the extra mile, to learn how to put the others before myself. Jesus’ life was scattered. He had no place to sleep; he was constantly on the move, preaching and healing from town to town. You and I on the other hand often try “to save” our life, which means to keep it safe and whole, don’t let anyone break it, especially my plans for the night or the weekend. This kind of “saving” does not give us life, it loses it. A life that does not grow is not life.
Hopefully in this time of Lent you have died to some comforts of food, money, sleep and through this have seen the face of God more clearly in your life. Perhaps the things God is inviting you to go without are not wrong but you know in your heart that it is not a good use of your time. You know you spend too much time watching sports or TV or playing video games or texting. Think of the many little things that you should die to…gossiping, complaining, profanity, angry outbursts, looking at bad stuff on the internet, drinking or eating too much or eating too much of the wrong things. Often these things keep us from doing better things that would deepen our faith, or help you to be a better parent, or prevent you from being healthier, or keep you from serving here in church in a ministry. It is not that those things are so bad but they keep you from becoming someone better.
We all need to die to something that will lead us to new life. Hopefully you are on the verge of taking this step. And you are in good company. Jesus also prayed that his Father would save him from this hour of suffering and death. But Christ knew the reason he came to this earth: to give his life for us.
You also know the reason why God put you here: to die to yourself so that you can be happy and give life to others. When we die to sin and selfishness our old self dies so that the new man or woman can come to life. Don’t be afraid to take the next step, and to finish these last two weeks of Lent well. God will bring new life to you when he sees that you at least try to put him first.