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?
Peace be with all who enter here.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS
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