Jesus said to his disciples: “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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (John 12:24-26)
There are two metaphors in today’s scripture . . . the grain of wheat falling to the ground and losing one’s life to preserve eternal life.
Some find them very understandable, still others find them perplexing.
Lt’s start with the easy one. In order for it to be fruitful, a grain of wheat has to fall into the ground and effectively be disintegrated so that it will be transformed into a new plant which in time will reproduce itself many times over.
God’s work in our souls is often like this too—God plants a seed and God and tends it, sometimes gently, sometimes firmly, until we are ready to bear the fruit he desires. It’s okay not to understand all that he is doing or asking; it may be part of the seed burying, which will rise to new life in us. What is important is that we keep our eyes on him.
Those who belong to the kingdom of God do not have survival as their highest good. Their decisions are often different from those many others make in our world. For those who belong to the kingdom of God, decisions will not be determined by what everybody else is doing or what the latest polls say. They will have a different perspective on war, on poverty, on immigration, on healthcare. They will have a different opinion on the value of life whether that life is found in the womb, or on death row.
And that brings us to the discussion on losing one’s life. What does it mean to “die” to oneself? It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s will must be “crucified” or “put to death”. God gives us grace to say “yes” to his will and to reject whatever is contrary to his loving plan for our lives. Jesus also promises that we will bear much “fruit” for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake.
Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven. To follow Jesus means to go the path of the grain of wheat, to die to oneself so as to bear fruit. That is the essence of Christianity.
The fundamental truth that flows through the veins of everything that is good and Christian is seeking to bring happiness to others. To lighten their burden. To replace a frown with a smile. To let one who feels unloved to feel loved.
It’s really quite easy. You see, the human heart was made not only for self-sustainment but also for self-donation. In giving we receive, in giving we live, in loving we experience love in a way that leaves us smiling for eternity.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, let me be wheat sown in the earth, to be harvested for you. I want to follow wherever you lead me. Give me fresh hope and joy in serving you all the days of my life”.
There are two kingdoms operating in the world in which we live and their values are different. We must choose between them, and the choice we make will influence everything. It will determine whether our highest value is one of survival or one of faithfulness to God’s will. It will determine whether we stand with Pilate or stand with Jesus.