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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 more fruit.

Jn 12: 24

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Honestly, I doubt that we fully absorb all the lessons in the Gospel, or that we can do so in a life time.  We are, surely, not God and not easily able to hear, see or understand as God teaches, appropriate the scope of the wisdom and meaning of what we are told, or given to see and experience.  Such is the distinction between mortal and immortal, the Divine and each of us.

That is, of course, not to say that we may never hear, or see or understand but that it does not come instantly – and, better yet, we progress in sight, hearing and understanding over time.

The point: stay with faith, attend to the Gospel throughout your life and, yes, you will gain wisdom and insight, come to a fullness of being and draw closer to God.

My friend Marty, a faithful and learned man, a gentleman, a father, a brother, a husband – now a widower helped me think more deeply about the above passage.

I stayed with Marty, in his 80’s and fit as a fiddle, this past weekend and Marty said to me that he sees himself in the final third of his life and he wondered what God might ask of him.  He was implying, in part, that he wondered what might be asked of him when he came to the point where he was limited and needed the help of his children or others.

A fair question indeed.

I instantly responded – and, yes, responded not from the head but the heart –from the Spirit … 

“Marty, you will be a grain of wheat,” I said.

I went on to say that he would in his need teach those who loved him and others how to love, and serve, and come to give them in his need a divine lesson, a lesson that would deepen their understanding of God, of love, of life, of being human, of sacrifice, of faith and the absolute gift God imparts to all things.

You see when we suffer, falter, or come to the end – others who walk with us learn what cannot be learned in any other event but serving the needs of those who once seemed so invincible, so successful.  There is, frankly, a shared humility in being in need of help – especially in the final scene of the last act of a human drama that is our life.

Jesus is telling us this in discussing his “final hour.”  But understand he is not telling us something limited to his final hour – but that which is true of each of us.  We are, in our mortality and missteps, that piece of grain, too.

There is in all things, even decline and need, God teaching us and others.  There is good in what appears to us less so. There is in this proof of God’s omnipotence, unbounded wisdom, eternal scope, and of eternity.

The grain that dies creates living – as Jesus did and as we, too, are invited to do.

Rest in certainty.  Fear not.  You and I are a grain of wheat.  We will fall to the ground and life will have been born anew – especially in those called to stand and sit with us when the journey enters in latter stages.


It is good to be back with my friends.