…. 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.
This passage from John 12 is one of the passages that marked a turning point within my life. Now, let me say that I was baptized into the Catholic Church when I was an infant and attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day while growing up. I received the Sacraments along the way and even attended a Catholic grade school through my 3rd grade year. After leaving the Catholic grade school, I attended religious education (called CCD) for a year or so and then when I was in 8th grade, went again to classes to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Once I entered high school, there wasn’t a program for the teens, but I still went to Mass each week.
My life went gliding along like this until one of my roommates (who also happened to be my best friend) decided to attend a retreat through the Newman Center. Now, remember that I did not ever remember NOT being a Catholic, but when B told me that she was going on this retreat, I thought she was NUTS! No one I had ever known had ever voluntarily attended a retreat unless they were a nun or a priest! I remember asking her how she ever thought she would last an entire weekend without talking as that was what I thought a retreat was all about. I was totally incredulous that this friend that I knew as well as I did, could even consider doing anything like this!
But, time went along and she did go on the retreat – even with all of the dire consequences I told her would happen if she actually went. When she came back afterwards, she was a changed person. Honestly, that bothered me and now looking back, I can see that was what I was so afraid of to begin with. After she came back, she started attending Mass on days BESIDES Sunday! Can you imagine??? I thought the world was going to end and that we were going to have to admit her into the psych ward for losing her mind! At the time, the only people who went to Mass on days other than Sundays and Holy Days were really old people who had lots to make up for in their life before they died and then, of course, nuns and priests.
After a period of time, I gradually got used to this new person and realized how much happier she was. She even convinced me to attend a Wednesday Mass with her group of new friends. The Mass was really cool, but I did feel out-of-place as I didn’t know anyone there but her. But, by the end, the experience had re-ignited a thirst for something more within me. So, with some persuasion from my friend, I decided to attend the next retreat being held. All I knew was that I was at a pretty low point in my life and was very lost after breaking off my engagement with my childhood sweetheart. (I’ll tell you that story another time.) I needed to do something or I knew I would slide into oblivion. So, I went on this Newman Foundation Koinoinia retreat and it changed my life.
Going into the full story of the retreat and the impact it had on me is a witness talk I have done but not my point here. But, 2 things, one passage and one phrase stand out from that retreat. These will always take me back to that weekend, especially to the wonder and awe I felt experiencing Christ’s love and forgiveness in a way that I never had before and to the reality of God’s sacrifice and desire for me to follow Him. They are:
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.
God is counting on YOU!
The reality is that a seed is worth nothing unless it dies just as my life was/is nothing unless I am willing to die so that abundant fruit can come forth. I need to die to my own vanity, my own selfishness, my own will in order to do His will. And when the going gets tough, all I need to remember is that He is counting on ME!
So, thank you Lord for giving me this reminder! Be with me as I hope to remain in You.