Reflection on The Wheat

Grain of Wheat

 

Jesus said, “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 this world will keep it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am , there will my servant be also.  (See John 12:20-33 NRSV).

A few weeks ago, I went to a doctor’s appointment.  There was a lot of snow and ice around.  I had to park on the side of the street.  When I got out of my car and walked with my cane, I was stopped by the sight of a lot of snow and ice pilled up between the street and the sidewalk.  This was a very challenging moment for me, because I am on the Autistic Spectrum.  I found myself stuck in place, because I was afraid of the next step I might take.  Just then, a gentleman came along and offered to help me.  The man held me in a loving embrace, and helped me over the snow mound to the dry sidewalk on the other side.   I embraced him and said a relieving thank you.  God had come to my aid through the generosity of this stranger.  It was a very humbling experience.  It was also a teaching moment for me.  If I had remained there by myself, I would have been stuck there.  If I had tried to walk without help, I could have slipped and gotten hurt.  It was when the man reached out for me, that I had to let go and let him help me.

“Abba John gave this advice, “Watching means to sit in the cell and always be mindful of God.  This is what is meant by, ‘I was on watch and God came to me.” (Matthew 25:36)  (Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings Annotated and Explained by Christiane Valters Paintner, p.11).

In Desert spirituality the cell is a place in our interior self in which we encounter God with the best and worst of ourselves.   It can be as St. Romuald writes “Sit in your cell as in Paradise.”  It can also be an inferno.  When we see the worst of ourselves in our cells, the best thing is let God work through it with us.  If we try to escape, it will only catch up with us later.  If we pretend it isn’t there, it only becomes worse instead of better.  To find that paradise within our cells, we must let go and let God embrace us and carry us through to the other side.  Our gentle and loving Shepherd will help us get to safety.

If we want to find the true path with Jesus, we must like the grain of wheat fall and die to ourselves.  When we empty ourselves there is a “death” that occurs as we bear a lot of fruit in the mystery of God’s love for each of us.  We enter into a deep moment of Contemplative Prayer that takes us in the here and now and transforms us into true followers of Jesus.  When we let ourselves go and follow Jesus the Word, we must commit ourselves to going with Him to the Cross.  It is by Christ’s death and our own, that we have a hope of the Resurrection.

“This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, The Prologue, p.15).

Are there single grains of wheat in your life that you need to let go of?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

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Holy Tuesday Reflection

Grain of Wheat

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?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See: http://www.cos-osb.org

 

Holy Tuesday Reflection

Grain of Wheat

 

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.  (John 12:23-26a. NRSV).

 

Four months ago today, my mother died on the 22nd of November.  My mother died of complications from vascular dementia.  As with any illness that takes the life of a parent, watching my mother slowly wither away and die was a difficult experience to watch.  On the other hand, witnessing the wondrous grace of God at work in my mother as she gave over everything physical and material as she embraced the spiritual and eternal was something I would not trade for a movie ticket to the next popular film.  It was a moment of conversion of heart that will stay in my memory forever.

Accepting the reality of death is probably the most difficult of human experiences to accept.  No matter how good we are, or how smart, how popular, how good looking; every one of us will die.  It is a fact of life.

The great prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi ends with the words “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”  These words echo what Jesus is saying in the Gospel for today.  Jesus had accomplished so much in the time He was with His Disciples.  He had healed the sick, made those who were blind able to see and those pushed aside found their place in the community of faith because of Jesus.  Yet, Jesus not only knew but lovingly embraced that if He was going to make an impact on salvation history that would change human history forever, it would require Him to give us His life for all of us.   Jesus’ great humility enabled Him to see His life as a mere grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies.  Only by dying can that grain of wheat be a source of nourishment for those who eat the bread made from it.

Jesus is calling each of us to to see ourselves as a grain of wheat that must fall to the ground and die.  Jesus challenges us to see our falling to the earth and dying to ourselves as our chance to grow closer to God with simple faith and trust.  That death may come to us by being at the side of another person who is ill and/or dying to be a comforting presence for her/him.   We may be called to give of ourselves for the poor, the disadvantaged or in even a more tangible way.  Jesus offers Himself as our example of how to let go and search for union with God with nothing held back.

In our contemplative prayer, may we ask for the grace to know how God is calling us to fall to the ground and die as a grain of wheat.  May we have that trust in God that Jesus had, to believe that our dying is not the end of the story, but only a change that leads us all to Eternal Life with God and all the Saints.

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB