(Source: "Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 52-54, 1937 Imp.)
THE GRAIN OF WHEAT
Unless the gram of wheat falling
into the ground die,
itself remaineth alone. -John xii. 24.
We use the grain of wheat in two ways, for
and for seed. Here the word is to be taken in
the second sense, grain of wheat meaning seed
and not the matter out of which we make bread.
For in this sense it never increases so as to bear
When it is said that the grain must die,
this does not mean that it loses its value as seed,
but that it is changed
into another kind of thing.
So St. Paul (i Cor. xv. 36) says, That which then
thou sowest is not quickened, except
it die first.
The Word of God is a seed in the soul of man,
in so far as it is a thing introduced into
soul, by words spoken and heard, in order to
produce the fruit of good works, The seed is the
Word of God (Luke viii. n). So also the Word of
God garbed in flesh is a seed placed in the world, a
seed from which great crops should grow, whence
it is compared in St. Matthew's Gospel (xiii. 31, 32)
to a grain of mustard seed.
Our Lord therefore says to us, "I came as
seed, something meant to bear
fruit and therefore
I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falling into
the ground die, itself remaimth alone"
which is as
much as to say," Unless I die the fruit of the con-
version of the Gentiles will not follow." He
compares himself to a grain of wheat, because he
came to nourish and to sustain the minds of men,
and to nourish and sustain are precisely what
wheaten bread does for men. In the Psalms it is
bread may strengthen man's heart (Ps.
ciii. 15), and in St. John, The bread that I will give
is my flesh
for the life of the world (John vi. 52).
2. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit (John
What is here explained is the usefulness
of the Passion. It is as though the gospel said,
Unless the grain fall into the earth
humiliations of the Passion, no useful result will
follow, for the grain itself remaineth alone. But
if it shall die, done to death and slain by the Jews,
it bringeth forth much fruit, for example:
(i) The remission of sin. This is the whole fruit,
that the sin thereby should be taken away (Isaias xxvii.
And this is the fruit of the Passion of Christ as is
declared by St. Peter, Christ died once for our sins,
the just for the unjust that he might offer us to God
(i Pet. iii. 1 8).
(ii) The conversion of the Gentiles to God.
I have appointed you that you shall go forth and bring
forth fruit and that your fruit should remain (John xv. 1 6).
This fruit the Passion of Christ bore, if I be lifted up from
the earth, I will draw all things to myself (John xii. 32).
(iii) The fruit of Glory. The fruit of good labours
is glorious (Wis. iii. 15). And this fruit also the Passion
of Christ brought forth; We have therefore a
confidence in the entering into the Holies by
the blood of Christ: a new and living way which he
hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say,
his flesh (Hebr. x. 19).
Blessed be St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles!
The Papal Restoration Staff