Today, I’m thinking about the following passage from the Gospel of John (John 12:23-24): “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.” In the chronology of John’s Gospel, Jesus said this following his entry into Jerusalem just prior to his crucifixion. It seems to me that he was using a metaphor to refer to his own death and then glorification through the Resurrection and how it will produce much fruit as time passes. Jesus had to die and rise, otherwise his life and all he had accomplished would remain a life to be forgotten, just a grain of wheat.
I love the imagery here, and I think it can apply to our lives as well. A grain of wheat is a seed. When a see falls to the ground, gets covered with dirt, it germinates. And when a seed germinates, it “dies,” but produces a plant that grows into maturity and produces blossoms and more grain – a miracle, really. Unless we die to sin and rise through faith and grace, we will remain just this un-germinated grain of wheat and the miracle of our salvation cannot happen.
Recently, an atheist Facebook friend of mine, a scientist educated at the PhD level, shared an article about Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas who is a former evangelical and now a devout Catholic. His purpose was to poke fun at Brownback for his statements calling for prayer and fasting to help get the state of Kansas out of its financial difficulties. Brownback claimed that God came to him in a dream and made this request. My friend’s one-word statement accompanying the post was simply “Nuts!!” Facebook responders readily agreed, most using rather degrading comments.
But how “nuts” is it, really? Prayer and fasting. We are taught that these are powerful tools in our Devil-fighting arsenal. And why not? Prayer and fasting were practiced by Jesus himself. Prayer and fasting were practiced by some pretty notable saints: Francis, Clare, Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, etc., etc. The “nuts” adjective may arise from the fact that Brownback claimed that this came to him in a dream. But why not? God puts thoughts in our heads all the time. Why not while we sleep? It often happened this way in Scripture!
You know, I’m thinking that heaven is probably full of people who have prayed and fasted. I think, unless we pray and fast, we remain just a grain of wheat. But if we do these things, we germinate, blossom, and produce much fruit. We may not want to go down that path initially, especially with all the atheists watching and ready to joke and criticize, but imagine the results! Jesus promises much fruit ... even the kingdom of heaven! After all, he, himself, was raised from the dead and glorified, producing much fruit on this earth. Indeed! Amen!