When spring finally came to northeast Wisconsin, many of us put on garden gloves eager to plant flowers and seeds in the warm fertile earth. We love the creative process and the resulting fresh fruits and vegetables!
Today’s reading from Isaiah and the parable in Matthew’s Gospel resonate with our experience of planting, tending and waiting with great expectation for the harvest that will reward our labors.
Through Isaiah, God promises that his word will bear fruit and accomplish his will in us. Jesus reiterates the promise but also tells “the rest of the story.” When seed falls on thin, rocky soil or lands amid weeds and thorns, there is only a minimal return. It is the seed buried in rich soil that produces the abundant harvest.
God loves all of us beyond measure and “sows” generously. He continues to call us into deeper union with him and offers all that we need. So why do the results vary so much? What determines whether you and I who hear the Scriptures and gather at the altar each week are shallow ground or fertile soil?
Gardeners know that the process begins with preparation. We work up the ground, chop the clods and clear the stones. We water, weed, hoe and protect the emerging plants from four-footed critters that also like fresh greens.
The same preparation and tending for Mass each week helps insure that the experience will bear fruit in us. Arriving at least a few minutes before Mass gives us time to quiet our minds and hearts to focus upon what we are about to do. Reading the Scriptures ahead of time helps us listen with greater attention. Following the first reading, the responsorial psalm reinforces an image or the message of the text. This week we’ll sing, “the seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”
Good homilies help us make the connection between Scripture and our lives. Through stories and examples (and even poetry), the priest or deacon ties the Scripture to our life experience and helps us hear God’s call to growth or conversion or faith and trust within that word.
As we move to the table of the Eucharist, we offer our lives with Christ’s offering, and during the eucharistic prayer we ask to be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ who was faithful and loved — even in death on the cross.
After Mass, a simple discussion of the homily or readings can help reinforce and connect the message.And on special occasions we might even come up with an action or “resolution” we can do to carry out what we heard God say.
What else might you and I do this week to prepare and nurture the garden of our lives, that God’s love might bear even greater fruit in us?
Sr. Rehrauer is the diocesan director of Evangelization and Worship.