The grain that dies and bears fruit

August 10 is the feast  of St. Lawrence, a deacon of the church of Rome. It is said that the emperor demanded that he bring the wealth of the Church. Lawrence arrived with the poor – here is the wealth of the church.

Today’s feast uses the Gospel of John 12: 24-26, a passage that has often moved me deeply.

… 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 commentary that Salvadoran archbishop Monseñor Oscar Romero gave in his April 1, 1979 homily is profound. I would like it to be read at my funeral – after communion. Today I’d like to share it with you:

“Those who, in the biblical phrase, would save their lives —
that is, those who want to get along,
who don’t want commitments,
who want to stay outside
what demands the involvement of all of us —
they will lose their lives.

What a terrible thing to have lived quite comfortably,
with no suffering, not getting involved in problems,
quite tranquil, quite settled,
with good connections
— politically, economically, socially —
lacking nothing, having everything.

To what good?
They will lose their lives.
But those who for love of Me uproot themselves
and accompany the poor in their suffering
and become incarnated
and feel as their own the pain and the abuse —
they will secure their lives,
because my Father will reward them.”

Brothers and sisters, God’s word calls us to this today.
Let me tell you with all the conviction I can muster:
it is worthwhile to be a Christian.

To each of us Christ is saying:
If you want your life and mission to be fruitful like mine,
do as I do.
Be converted into a seed that lets itself be buried.
Let yourself be killed. Do not be afraid.

Those who shun suffering will remain alone.
No one is more alone than the selfish.
But if you give your life out of love for others,
as I give mine for all,
you will reap a great harvest.
You will have the deepest satisfaction.

Do not fear death threats;
the Lord goes with you.


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