March 18, 2018
by Steve Scholer
Creighton University's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year B Readings
Lectionary: 35

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33

Praying Lent Home

Daily Lent Prayer for Today

The Fifth Week of Lent - 18 min. - Text Transcript

I come from a long line of gardeners. My grandfather had a garden the size of a basketball court. For the 30-plus years he served as county sheriff, my grandmother used the bushel baskets of vegetables he grew to feed those in county jail. Just think of that, garden fresh vegetables and juicy, ripe tomatoes for the county prisoners.

My dad followed suit, although his forte was starting tomatoes from seed. Each spring he would pour over the seed catalogs for the newest hybrids and heirloom tomatoes. He had a small hothouse in our backyard and would start about 250 tomato plants per year, although he only needed four for his small garden. His mom told him that if he charged his friends and neighbors for the seedlings, “they would not produce,” so he gave them away.

My garden is a 4’ x 12’ plot, which is one of about 20 in the Creighton University Ignatian Garden located on the fringe of campus. There, I plant, weed, water and harvest my produce. Tomatoes are my specialty, too—lots of them—in fact, so many that starting in early summer, I make regular stops at the nursing home where my mother-in-law lives, and drop off dozens each week.

The hardware store I shop at already has its flower and garden seeds display set up to greet you right when you walk in, with beautiful pictures on the packets of what you can expect, if only you take the time to plant and nurture the seeds. But when you open the seed packet, at the bottom are about 20 seeds, each as small as the head of pin, an almost microscopic withered piece of matter that for all intents and purposes, looks dead. But if you plant at the right time, weed often, water frequently and have the right amount of sun, you will be blessed with a bumper crop to enjoy and share with family and friends.

Why do so many of us, like my family, have a fascination with gardening? Is it about putting fresh food on the table, or is it testing one’s ability; that with diligent care and attention we can take a small, seemingly inert piece of matter and turn it into a beautiful flower or a ripe red tomato? Could it be that Jesus’ focus may have been on the process it takes to produce the fruit-- the commitment a gardener must make to diligently prepare the soil, plant, water, weed and constantly tend to his garden if it is to produce much fruit when he said to Andrew and Philip, “Amen, amen, I say to you, 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.”

During our Lenten renewal, are we willing to be like garden seeds and risk being split apart so that we can renew ourselves and grow into a life rich with abundance to share with others? Are we willing to dedicate ourselves to growing our faith and our relationship with Christ so that we may become the Christians God wants us to be? Equally as important, are we willing to let the world’s greatest gardener nurture us, not by sun and water, but by His never-ending love and his promise to us each and every day?

If so, then through our death and rebirth we, too, can produce much fruit, fruit that we can share with others through our service to them.

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