Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

Though these words of Jesus from today’s gospel reading from the Gospel of Saint John, chapter 12, verse 20 to 33, was to prepare His disciples for His upcoming passion and death on the cross, which will bear fruit through His resurrection by bringing about their redemption and salvation; these words actually emphasize the importance of the Cross in the life of every Christian. Take note my dear friends that Jesus used Himself, as an example, to explain to us what the call to discipleship is all about, for He is that grain of wheat that fell to the ground and died, then produced much fruit as we can see in the lives of His apostles, disciples and us today. This in fact points us to the reality of new life in Christ with the Easter celebration, that transcends the reality of His suffering. With these words also, Jesus reminds us that any effort, any penance, any pain, any hardship, any persecution, any difficulty, any sacrifice, any suffering and anything we give up or experience for the sake of our love for Him to grow spiritually, will surely bear fruit in the future. So how do we deal with suffering in our lives? Do we give up and opt out of life because of the struggles or challenges we face as disciples of Christ? Do we become bitter and angry with God about the sufferings, difficulties or hardships that come our way because of the gospel? Do we angrily blame others or point fingers at them for what we are going through because of the gospel of Christ?

Jesus teaches us today that suffering for the sake of God and His gospel is part of our lives as God’s children, because it strengthens and purifies us to come closer to God and stand firm in Him. So when you feel like your suffering is the worst ever, look at Jesus on the cross. When you feel like opting out of life and giving up on yourself and your spiritual life, look at Jesus on the cross. When you start blaming God and becoming angry at Him for the trials, sufferings, pain, difficulties, disappointments, hardships, struggles, persecutions and challenges that come your way because of the gospel of Christ, look at the crucifix and see how God sacrificed His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to die a shameful death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and for our redemption and salvation.

So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, look fervently and devoutly to the crucifix today and compare your willingness to endure the sufferings that come your way like Jesus did, so that you can bear fruit in the future. During this Lenten season, let us join Christ in His suffering, passion and death by giving up ourselves for love of Christ and our neighbors, so that we can bear good fruit this Easter season, with His joyful and glorious resurrection.