Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 15; 147:1-11, Job 42:1-17, Acts 16:16-24, John 12:20-26
“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.”
– John 12:24
Jesus shares this image of a seed dying to bear fruit as a metaphor for his own impending death, and the faith community that will grow from it. Just as an apple seed contains all the genetic material to create a fully-formed apple tree from water, soil and light, Jesus contains everything the world needs to be transformed into the limbs of the body of Christ. Both the seed and Jesus sacrifice themselves to turn potential into reality, and both remain fully present in the fruit they bear.
Like all good parables, this one contains multiple levels of meaning. Each of us needs to “die to ourselves” to release the potential God has placed in us. What does it mean to “die to ourselves?” Like a seed, we have to shed any shell that keeps us from fully surrendering to God’s transformational process. Our shells may grow from pride, greed, fear, selfishness, or anything that inhibits the Spirit. Until that shell crumbles, neither we nor the world will see any real fruit.
How do we discard our shells? The same way any seed does: a little dirt, a little water, and a little light. We have to dig in and dirty our hands by helping the poor, the sick, and anyone Christ commands us to serve. Through the waters of baptism – a ritual symbolizing death and resurrection – we surrender ourselves to God and agree to trust his understanding above our own. We allow the light of Christ, his message of love and faith, to penetrate our hearts until it burns away all resistance. Faith lives that are never exposed to these elements are like seeds that never leave the packet: we see the picture of what they’re supposed to become, but never taste the real thing.
The world hungers for God. Let’s do everything we can to feed it by nurturing the seeds within us to fruition.
Comfort: To die to the self is not to perish, but to be reborn in Christ..
Challenge: Are you getting enough dirt, water and light? Examine how you engage the world, trust God, and embody Christ’s light.
Prayer: Compassionate God, thank you for the potential in each of us. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever gotten into a debate that generated a lot of heat and little or no light?
Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!