Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.” (John 12:23-26 NRSV).
In his book Monastic Practices, Charles Cummings, OSCO writes about the place of food in the daily Monastic life (see p.81). It is not a simple matter of filling our bellies to satisfy us. Eating is about participating and giving thanks for all the many ways the Monastic receives food. Monastics do not just eat food; we take food. In so doing, we remember each part of the food was the product of the sun, rain, soil, growing, farming, labor to harvest. The food such as bread needed the wheat, the flour, the eggs, the yeast, the kneading, baking, packaging. The grapes are tended to on the vine. They are harvested and over many years become wine. These things do not happen without something that is living dies, and/or someone giving over their time and talent to serve the common good of those who will eat. We recognize that everything we are eating and sharing is from God’s graciousness and others participating as co-creators with God.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is accepting and announcing that the hour to give His life has come. His Disciples still do not know what to make of this action Jesus is about to do. As He does many times before, Jesus talks in symbolic language to help us to understand that what Jesus is about to do is about the fruit it will bear. If His death is going to bear fruit, then He must endure the shame and hardship of the Cross to bring it about. Furthermore, Jesus tells us that if we want to bear fruit as followers of Jesus; we must be willing to follow Him and give up ourselves in self sacrifice as Jesus did. We may or may not be called upon to suffer a horrible death by crucifixion. However, all of us are called upon to search for union with God seeking God’s will and letting go of ourselves to serve God and each other.
“Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen” (RB: 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in Latin and English. Conclusion of the Prologue p.167).
What is Jesus calling on you to let go of, so that you may follow Him and serve others in His Name?
How can you live more intentionally into Jesus’ invitation to discipleship?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB