“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
Hindsight and a proper faith perspective help us understand this saying of Jesus. We feel its truth concretely in our lives. However, when we are in fresh grief, we have to cling tightly to a wavering faith. Sometimes during the dark storms in our lives, we are encouraged by rays of light which penetrate the dark clouds. At other times numbness and a sense of being deceived by everything and everyone weigh our tired souls down. Every second that passes without our prayers being answered, feels like we are being cheated. These moments seem too long to endure, too harsh to sustain, like a towering rock wall that blocks our well-intentioned life trajectory.
We have all experienced firsthand a dear life cut short, a life commitment turned sour, and an injury that we did not deserve. It’s not that we have not prayed or have brought this grief upon ourselves. It is about the struggle to bring together our pain on the same page as those other words uttered by Jesus: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. “Mt 18:19
The sudden death of our founder Joseph De Piro was one such unexpected blow, followed by numbness and the sense of being orphaned. Why would God allow the premature death of a holy man, who meant so much to many poor people and to a budding community of young aspiring missionaries? Would not have God been able to prevent this death? We also know from our history, that the seed that was sown took some time to sprout, and not without difficulties and big question marks.
If we were to ask the man about it, De Piro would have surely spoken about God’s will as the only “will” that matters. He would have gently helped us to extend our horizons of existence towards the horizon of the Kingdom. He would empathize with us, stay with us in our grief and not only console us but accompany us in the rough walk of faith in grief. It’s pretty much the same response of God towards a foundering humanity – saving by accompaniment and not through some impersonal intervention.
Grief is an important moment in our faith learning curve, and the answered prayers that Jesus is referring to are those of asking the Father to help us move in his will, come what may! Those prayers will surely be answered. The other prayers, as heartfelt as they may sound, can be simply band-aids on an infected wound.
This year on the 17th of September, we will be commemorating the 90th year from the sudden death of the Servant of God Joseph De Piro. He was a seed well planted and well prepared for any eventuality of God’s will. His life was a constant discernment on how he could commit himself to the service of others in a manner pleasing to God. His face radiated that of Christ and his freedom to bend to the Father’s plan shed light on the way a disciple should follow his master.
May all of us who are keen to grow in faith pray to God through the intercession of Joseph De Piro, to become more acquainted with the will of God and to help all of us who feel like that seed covered with heavy dirt, struggling to sprout new life.
Fr Mark Grima mssp