Monday, March 26, 2012

John 12:24

Yesterday's Gospel reading in Catholic churches was John 12:20-33. That includes verse 24:

"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."

The footnote in the New American Bible Revised Edition (the American Catholic standard at this point) suggests that Jesus's death will be accessible to all. That is an important premise of the Catholic faith.

For me, I think of other things. And the best example I can think of at the moment is an important part of my spiritual life. I have been part of the contemporary worship band at my church basically since it started about six years ago now. When it first started, I was just along for the ride, taking my son to rehearsal each week. Then, I tried contributing a guitar part. My guitar skill has never been all that great, and that was definitely a failure. I thought that my attempt to use that "grain of wheat" (the opportunity to play) was "falling to the ground and dying" (in this case just ending). But the death of one opportunity opened up a new opportunity. To play bass. Even there, I tried to play bass and sing for a while. That worked okay but not great--another death of a grain of wheat. Then I completely stepped away from playing with the band at mass for a while--yet another death of a grain of wheat. Finally, I came back, and now my bass playing has improved and continues to evolve in important ways that make bass playing a better experience for me and a more integrated part of the whole. It forces me to think about how the bass playing works with the song (or not sometimes). It brings into focus the contribution I am making and how important it is to be part of a team.

So, one opportunity slipped away and another not only became available but eventually blossomed in a way that I never would have anticipated. So it is with faith in God. Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to tell in advance which opportunities that seem like grains of wheat dying end up being the ones that turn out to be wonderfully blossoming opportunities later on. And, it is also impossible to know in advance which of those opportunities will contribute not only to my life but to the lives of those with whom I interact. But that is what faith is all about. Trusting that by following God's commands and following in Jesus's ways, all will be revealed in time and I will (sometimes long after the fact) understand how the single grain died and yielded a rich harvest.


  1. How I truly appreicate the music of 40 more days. To think in terms of your dying as part of the developing process only further explains why I find it so precious. As a guitar player and a loud but not so beatiful singer, I feel a connection with your dying and look forward to celebrating your rising each week with the band.

  2. Thanks for the positive comment. I suppose I could have told the story a little more like a story--I wanted to "grab the one grain of wheat--participating as a guitar player--and consume it. But I dropped it, it fell, and now look what has blossomed." That is the way I think about things. My daily reflections during Lent have taken me in many different directions, but I have definitely gained something by seeing all the connections and all the incredible aspects of my spiritual life by spending time reflecting each day.