We must let go of the need for recognition.
This comment by Jesus comes as a response to Andrew and Philip who have informed Jesus that some Greeks, who had come to worship at the feast being celebrated in Jerusalem, wanted to see him. Jesus’ hour was at hand and this response is connected to that.
Jesus knows that the hour has come and he begins to prepare the disciples for it by telling them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but it if dies, it bears fruit,” (verse 24). Jesus is telling them that he is the grain of wheat that must “fall into the earth and die” in order to bear this fruit of salvation and that this fruit will not be just for the Jews, but it will be for all people. He is also challenging us with the fact that we, as the “new wheat,” grown from that original seed of Jesus, must also be willing to “die” to ourselves, in order to be fruitful enough to pass on this living faith to our children, to our neighbors, and even to our enemies.
We must not love this life more than we love God. We are to have faith enough to let go of all that the world counts as good, for the greater good of the kingdom of God. This is not solely a materialistic idea. It is not only about material wealth, or material things. It is also about things like ego, or our hunger for fame, or to be counted among the important ones. If those things become the drivers in our lives, we will certainly lose our eternal lives. If, on the other hand, we “die” to those things and give our full attention to God, to the eternal things, we will bear much fruit and save our eternal lives.
The themes of death and resurrection are at the heart of this passage. We have been called to share in, and to live out the fullness of the Christ life in this world. When we accept the Christ life we are accepting all that comes with it. We accept the duty to lovingly serve our brothers and sisters, even if it means sacrificing our all. We must let go of anything that causes prideful thoughts, words, or deeds within us. As disciples of Jesus, we are called on to care for others, to love them, forgive them, no matter the cost to ourselves. This is what it means to follow Jesus, to imitate him. It is this that bears the fruits of God’s love into the world through us.
We must let go of the need for recognition. For if we serve only for recognition, to be seen and honored, then our service will be fruitless. It will have no life in it. To choose to follow Jesus is not easy. Only through God’s grace can we do this. If we choose this death to self willingly, in faith, and begin to serve as he served, he will always be with us in his Holy Spirit. That is his promise to us.
Lord, help us to deny ourselves for the greater good of serving others out of our love for you. Give us the graces we need to be your good and faithful servants, Lord, so that we may humbly bear the fruit of your love to all those around us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!