A grain of wheat

We were running out of fuel but there was no sign of a filling station anywhere. We stopped at a village and someone produced 20 litres while asking us to give two of his relatives a lift.  We continued our journey until the front left tire hit a concealed stone at the side of the road and burst.  Changing a wheel is easy enough if you know how, but this was a new car and there was no instruction leaflet about how to release the spare wheel and, more seriously, one of the nuts on the offending wheel refused to budge.

People stopped to help and offered suggestions. None worked.  Night drew in and we were still beside the road alone as the passengers had taken advantage of those who stopped to continue their journey.  Five hours into our waiting for further help, another car stopped. It was now quite dark but the men in the car had the tools and the knowhow. Within minutes we were gratefully on our way again.

“Was I a farmer,” our Good Samaritan asked.  I told him who I was and it drew an apologetic response. “I’m not a church man, myself, but my wife keeps me on the straight and narrow.”  Well, maybe she does, I thought to myself, but you took the decision to follow her prompting as it resonated with your own desires.  Generous acts grow out of a lifetime of making small decisions to help others.

This event, which disturbing my normally smooth routine, was a “break-in” of the values Jesus came to proclaim. Sometimes our plans have to “die” for some new understanding to break through. We could have sat there in the dark frustrated, anxious and looking for someone to blame for our dilemma.  Instead, after doing what we could to remedy our situation, we were able to relax, talk about other things and see what would happen.  And then, by and by, our Good Samaritan came along.

I was thinking these thoughts as I read this Sunday’s gospel and Jesus’words, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.”  Sometimes we use this passage at funerals but we can also use it for everyday life. Every day we are called to “die” to our plans and our opinions of people and events. Every day we are asked to be ready to change, abandon the old and see the new with “rinsed eyes”.

We read this passage on this fifth Sunday of Lent and it is followed by the words of Jesus: “now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” Amen to that!

18 March 2018                                    Lent Sunday 5 B

Jeremiah 31:31-34                   Hebrews 5: 7-9                                    John 12:2023

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