After the creation of man, God blesses man by saying “Be fruitful and multiply..:” To be fruitful means to bear fruit and to produce seeds. This in effect means to be useful, to be productive and to enhance results. Today, Jesus uses an agricultural setting to tell us what to do if we want to bear fruit. He uses this to drive home his point on the need to die to rise, become fruitful and live an eternal life. Therefore to die means to put an end to something that is already alive. So, if you want to bear fruit, what is keeping you from bearing fruit must die. Unless it dies, the new life will never resurrect.
Today also is the Feast of Saint Lawrence. Saint Lawrence is one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome. He was executed on 10th August 258. He was known for his piety and strong faith in God.His life touched a lot of souls. Saint Lawrence, teaches us that if we want to bear fruit, we must be ready to dedicate our whole lives to God.
Unless a Grain Dies.
To understand this gospel very well, we have to read the preceding verses and the reason Jesus makes this statement. Jesus makes this statement at the time He enters Jerusalem in preparation for His death. This is like a prediction of why He needs to die. He likens Himself to a grain of wheat who is to die to bring new life and salvation to the world, teaching us that to live a new life we must die to the old life.
2.Jesus says “unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it remains alone but if it dies it produces much fruit”. The steps that are involved here are falling to the earth and dying. Therefore, three things must come before the rise to a new life. They are; the fall, the earth and the dying. The three give birth to a new life. Let us take them one by one.
What it means to Fall.
To fall here means bringing ourselves down, removing pride and bending down to learn. Jesus did this through His life. Teaching about this Saint Paul says:
Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbles himself and becomes obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name (Phil 2:6-10).
Therefore, Jesus gives us an example of humility through His life. For one to rise to a new life, for one to bear good fruits for God, humility must be at the centre. There is no saint and no biblical figure that is known with pride. They were all humble. Name them: John the Baptist, Virgin Mary, the apostles etc.
Therefore, If we need God to exalt us, we must also learn to humble ourselves always before Him. So, if you want to bear fruit, always humble yourself before God and also be humble in your dealings with people. Pride leads to easy downfall.
️Many people today are suffering not because they do not have something to work for a living despite how little. The true problem is the pride in how “a whole me can do this”. They do not have and they do not want to do the little to have and grow. Because of this, they remain where they are.
Falling to The Earth.
In the gospel, Jesus says that the grain must fall to the earth to be able to grow. This is another condition for bearing good fruits. The earth is the place where germination takes place. Without enough nutrients, the seed may not bear good fruit.
The earth supplies the seed with the necessary nutrients to germinate. Hence, without the right conditions, a grain will lie dormant and never bear fruit.
Here, the earth serves as the necessary conditions that help one to bear fruit, which is the grace of God and the type of heart where the seed is falling on. Therefore, to bear good fruits, we need to accept the word of God in a good heart and make the resolution to keep to it.
It is this acceptance that will then lead us to make the change, to put an end to some unnecessary attitudes that are affecting us all this while.
Therefore, to bear good fruits, we need to be ready to do the word of God. We also need the grace of God. We need also to be courageous and faithful to keep on despite the challenges. Etc.
The Grain must die.
Thirdly, to die simply means to put an end to something. We have to know that to resurrect to a new life, Jesus has to die. If we want to live a new life, we have to put an end to the old ways of living. If you want to bear fruit, the old life must die.
Therefore, we need to die to sin to live to righteousness. We need to die of hatred, envy, wickedness, etc to live a loving and peaceful life.
We need to die to selfish political interests, greediness, tribalism etc to rise to national and economic growth. To be successful, we need to die of laziness, negative mental attitude etc. Once there is death, there is life.
When we put an end to the past life, new life comes immediately. If you want to bear fruit, first of all, put to death, that thing that is keeping you from growing.
Those Who love their Lives destroy It.
In the gospel, Jesus says “Anyone who loves his life loses it; Anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”.
When Jesus says this, it does not mean He hates life. He is not saying that we should destroy our lives. Remember that Jesus is the giver of life. We can draw the meaning of this from the setting from which this is said.
When Jesus said this, He was already on the way to suffer. He accepted to do the will of the Father more than His own will. His life is not the main thing but that the will of God be done. What Jesus is saying is that the people who seek the will of God first will live to see their reward. But those who love to enjoy their lives now to the extent of neglecting the will of God will lose it in the end.
Therefore, for them, the will of God or what God wants does not matter. What matters is what they want. These are people who can even go to any extent to make money. They do not care if God is happy with such a type of life or not. So, since they live their lives neglecting God, they will surely lose it at last.
So, loving our lives then means living for ourselves and forgetting God. It is to live as if this world is everything we are going to live. It is living and forgetting that there is eternal life. This is when we are living to enjoy the now and forgetting that man is nothing but a creature and has an eternal destination. This is also when man tries to raise himself as the supreme and relegate God to the background.
The Apostles suffered beatings, imprisonments, stoning, shipwrecks, and frequent dangers for the sake of the gospel. But now we despise the gospel to enjoy life. We relegate God to the background and go to any extent to acquire worldly treasure.
As Jesus said, this is why many lives are destroyed. Wickedness is on the increase. We seek to live here in the world and at the same time lose it in the end.
Therefore, if we want to bear good fruits, we must put God first in everything we do, as Saint Lawrence did. If you want to bear fruit, the life that pleases God should come first, before the life that pleases you.
Hence, when we live our lives like people who know that life here is temporary, we will checkmate most of the things we do, live a good life and pursue eternity by all means. If we want to bear fruit let us live our lives first for the glory of God and die to selfishness.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to live the way He wants. Amen.