Summer is a time for growing vegetables in your garden. Glad to hear that many of our parishioners are growing tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, eggplant, beans, peppers, melons, squash, kale, carrots etc. July-August is the best time to grow these heat-loving crops. Jesus used many stories related to farm life to teach his listeners about the kingdom of God. Today’s Gospel is all about what a farmer does. Jesus takes the whole process of sowing seeds and uses it as a metaphor for sowing the Word of God in our hearts. If the seed has to yield a rich harvest, it has to grow in a soil that is tilled, fertilized and watered. So also, if the Word of God should produce good fruits in our lives, our hearts and minds should be open and prepared to receive God’s Word. Thank God that all of us, in our own way, are making efforts to welcome the Word in our hearts, and our own family garden is a very real symbol of that!
Recently I had taken some visitors to my previous parish of St. John Neumann, Califon, to show them the parish and especially the parish gardens. Both the “Project Earth Garden” and the “Gift of Good Land Community Garden” are lush with all kinds of vegetables and flowers. Many large trays of ripe strawberries, blueberries, asparagus and other produce were donated to food pantries and soup kitchens. The lettuces, celeries, varieties of squashes, tomatoes, potatoes, peas – and what not – are almost ready, for harvest. The greatness of this garden is not only because we get some good produce, but also because it creates community and fellowship. In addition, it is the way St. John’s community puts into practice the invitation of Pope Francis in his landmark document on creation, Laudato Si. Here are two paragraphs worth reflecting on from that great document:
“In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.”
“It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”
Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus who literally walked on this earth was very much aware of creation? That’s why he spoke of the sun, rain, birds, animals, flowers, cultivation and harvesting. As we reflect today on the most notable parable of Jesus, “The Sower and the Seed” (Mt 13:1ff), we are invited to plant and nurture the seeds of our relationship with Jesus.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal