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5th Sunday of Lent (Ages 6-9): Possibility of More

 
 

For many weeks of Lent, we prepare for the feast of Easter. When Easter arrives, we will have a whole season to remember and celebrate the gift Jesus makes of his whole life—both at the Last Supper and on the cross—the gift that leads to the Resurrection, to life everlasting, to death no more. In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus prepares for this gift of his whole self.


Jesus tells this parable,

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

This seems a strange thing to say. Why does he say this? Jesus thinks about his death to come and says,

my soul is troubled.

Even for Jesus, death is not easy. But Jesus understands what will happen; he knows the gift of his whole self is very important. Jesus understands this, but his disciples do not. His disciples worry. When his disciples worry about death, Jesus tells this parable about a grain of wheat. What can he mean?

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

A grain of wheat is just one seed. We know that seeds produce plants; a wheat seed produces wheat. A grain of wheat is hard and brown. If we pick one up and close our eyes, we can still feel the hard surface of the seed in our hand.

One hard brown grain of wheat.

Jesus says that, if the seed dies, "it bears much fruit." We do not usually think about seeds dying, do we? It is just a seed. But it has a life, the life of a hard brown seed. That is what it is.

A dried ear of wheat, and one hard brown grain of wheat.

We might wonder, what is the fruit of a wheat plant? The "fruit" of the wheat plant is is called an "ear." Inside the ear are many more wheat seeds. Wheat seeds can be ground into flour, and the flour can be baked into bread. It must take so many wheat seeds to make flour though. How many wheat seeds make enough flour for one loaf of bread?!


If we leave that one hard seed in our hand, we can imagine all the seeds that could one day grow, and the flour that could be made, and the bread that could be eaten, but...

will that ever happen if we leave the seed in our hand?

If we leave the seed in our hand, does the story continue for that grain of wheat?

Nope. There is no possibility of anything more.

unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain

How can the grain of wheat ever change? Before it can produce all those seeds, what must happen first? Jesus tells us: first, it must fall into the earth and die.

Then there is more to the story of that grain of wheat.

Then there is all that possibility.

Possibility of...what?

but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Growth of wheat takes weeks and months. Beneath the earth, we can no longer find the seed. It has died. When we look at the wheat plant that grows, we find it hard to believe that all of that grew from one little hard brown seed.


What if we just cut open the seed? Could this help speed up the process?

We know this will not work; the ears of wheat are not just curled up inside the seed. A transformation occurs when the seed falls to earth. Transformation is not our work to do.


We have to remember that this is a parable that Jesus tells to his disciples. Does Jesus speak only about wheat? We have to wonder what more he could mean.

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

It is important for us to remember that Jesus tells his disciples this parable

before he dies,

before he gives them his whole self in the bread and the wine,

before he gives his whole life on the cross.

He tells them this parable

before he dies,

before the gift of his life.


When he dies, everyone thinks that his story ends.

They think that there is no possibility of anything more.

What does Jesus need his disciples to know?

Is his death the end?


Jesus tells us: first, the seed must fall into the earth and die.

First, death.

Then there is more to the story.

Then there is all that possibility.

Possibility of...

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