“… unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn. 12,24). The comparison used by Jesus and reported by the Evangelist John, is very well known by all of us. In so many occasions we have read, proclaimed, explained and illustrated it. Nevertheless, it remains one of those realities linked to the “law of life” which we struggle to incarnate and assume as a reason and measure for our daily action.
Celebrating the 111th anniversary of our Founder’s birth to heaven, it seems to me that John’s comparison of the grain of wheat not only explains somehow the dynamic of a natural process referred to the moment of someone’s death; but it also offers a key to read Scalabrini’s very life, as well as the way he wanted to structure his existence and his own pastoral action. A style that was not certainly improvised, but was just the fruit of a continuous personal effort to overcome his own “self” in order to make room for the living presence of that “You”, for whom he would have been willing to do anything. Such an inner orientation was what allowed Scalabrini to open wide his heart and arms to the appeals that constantly resounded in his “good shepherd’s” heart and intelligence.
It is humanly and apparently a “loser” style of life, because entering the logic of “dying and rotting” is not attractive at all. This is, however, the logic of Jesus’s entire proposal of life; and, if we do not “marry it”, we are just a bunch of poor fool or “out of place” people. Unfortunately the permanent temptations and delusions of success regardless the cost; of winning and appearing; of power and money; of being on the side of those in power; of choosing the easy way, leaving perhaps the heavy cross to others, are all realities not too far and strange to our daily life. An this adds some weight to the reflection, given the fact that we, indeed, have made a choice of life which should be a prophetic sign anticipating the Kingdom’s beatitude
On this perspective, I find it appropriate the link to the other expression, very well known too, coming from St. Paul’s writings (1Cor 9,22), that our Founder made his own in order to focus and motivate, to himself first and to his people then, the center of his life and of his whole action: “I want to make myself all things to all”. It is always in the same dynamic of the grain of wheat that dies and produces a lot of fruits.
If today we can celebrate with gratitude and joy this anniversary, it is due to that choice of life, to that style incarnated with passion by our Founder. At the end, it seems to me like all this is very close to everything that Pope Francis says and does. It is true indeed that “men of God” are similar in many ways!
Have a blessed feast, dear confreres!
Fr. Alessandro Gazzola cs