When a thale cress plant is being eaten by a caterpillar, it responds by sending out mustard oil, which is toxic to caterpillars. Other stimuli doesn’t trigger this reaction. Somehow the plant knows when it is being eaten.
Read about the research and watch a video about it after the jump. One of the scientists who discovered this effect observes that plants have “behavior” just like animals do. And they must have, in some sense, a kind of awareness.
Which speaks to us about the Gospel. And Maundy Thursday. As I have pointed out before, there can be no life without sacrifice of another life. Another living being must die in order for us to live. We call this eating.
We cannot be nourished by inorganic chemicals, minerals, rocks, or other objects. We have to eat other living things. It doesn’t matter whether we eat an animal or a plant. A plant is just as alive as an animal is. Even “fruititarians,” who will not destroy whole plants, are eating the living cells of their fruit. No one can escape the reality that our life is sustained by death. Or, rather, that death allows us to live. And that life comes from death.
What is true in nature is a sign of what is supremely true spiritually. Our spiritual life depends on God the Son’s self-sacrifice for us. If we refuse His death for us, we die spiritually. But His death gives us life and continues to nourish us. Eventually, we will die physically, but, as with another natural sign that we see in plants, life comes from death. We will be raised, just as Christ was raised.
And to sustain us with His sacrifice, on the night that He was betrayed,
Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)