“Truly, I tell you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12: 24
What might it mean for us to fall to the earth and die? St Paul literally fell off his high horse and landed on the earth. This event on the road to Damascus marked the death of Saul and the beginning of the new life of Paul. St Ignatius of Loyola was hit by a cannonball which ended his old life as a soldier and put him on a pilgrim path. Perhaps you too have had an experience in life that has ‘brought you down to earth’ and changed your life? It might not have been quite as dramatic as being struck by lightening or a cannon ball. Exposure and immersion programs often have this impact on participants. An illness or the loss of a loved one, or of a job, can also make us stop and take stock of our lives and our priorities. In these moments we may realize our powerlessness and dependence on God.
If we have the courage to die to our plans and ambitions, desires and attachments, and place ourselves instead in God’s hands, we will not remain alone. We will find ourselves drawn into relationships of community and solidarity. During this Year of Consecrated Life, you might have noticed that the choice of religious to ‘give up’ other things in order to live simply and serve God is a joyful path, and one of community. Perhaps your own actions of solidarity with the poorest and most marginalized have gifted you with deep experiences of community? We were not made to remain alone. At this time Pope Francis is calling us to feel a deep relatedness to all of God’s creation. We too are God’s precious creatures and all that God has made is sister and brother to us.
Those who follow Jesus in self-giving bear much fruit. It is a way that is generative – it calls us into light and life. Let us give thanks for those who have made known the Heart of God in the heart of the world, and seek to be among their number.
Province Director of Mission