Daily Reflection
September 18th, 2004
Tom Purcell
Accounting Department
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Today’s readings are very appropriate for September 18 in the northern hemisphere.  It generally is harvest time across these latitudes, and the yield from the crops is directly related to some of the factors both Paul and Jesus mention today.  Was there good seed?  Did it fall on good soil?  Does it send down deep roots?  Does it mature and bear fruit?

Each of the last twenty years we have put in a vegetable garden.  I always tend to overplant, and my wife always reminds me we have too much produce.  This year our local Catholic Charities food pantry sent out a message in May asking for surplus from gardens to be shared with the pantry’s clients.  I always share with family and co-workers, but the reminder was communicated while I was planning and planting, so I added more plants and mentally made arrangements to deliver sacks of good, organically grown produce to the St. Martin de Porres Center. 

Well, the best-laid plans, as they say, are only plans.  The summer was cool and very rainy in June and July.  The tomatoes and squash and peppers just never took off.  And about the time they did, in early August, the baby deer discovered that tomato vines and pepper plants are tasty alternatives to their normal browse.  To date we have harvested about ten tomatoes, twenty peppers, four eggplants and no zucchini – hardly an abundance and not even enough to share with family. 

So what went wrong?  The soil was good, I planted the plants correctly, they were tilled and tended with care.  But factors I couldn’t control – uncooperative weather, uncontrollable wildlife – kept the harvest from being what I had envisioned.  What else could I have done?  Did I plant too late, or too early?  Should I have added fertilizer?  Scarecrows or fences?  All these are possibilities.  And next year, God willing, I will persist and try again.

I think the lesson from Jesus is that this receiving the word, this seed, is not a one-time event.  He uses the parable of a sower, someone who every growing season is out in the fields, sowing seed in the hope that a bounteous harvest will come at the end of the season.  The sower who is careful will do all the right things, and if conditions are favorable, will receive the harvest.  The sower who is persistent will cultivate plants that bear abundant fruit. 

So too with us.  We receive the seed regularly – from both public and private reading of the gospels, from reflective and contemplative prayer, from observation of and interaction with our brothers and sisters.  Sometimes when we receive the seed the conditions are not right, and it does not bear fruit.  Sometimes the conditions are right and we bear great fruit and do wonderful things.  But as Jesus reminds us, if we are persistent, our efforts will bear fruit.  If we keep trying, eventually all the growing conditions will be favorable and we will enjoy bumper crops.  The key is not whether the seed falls on favorable ground the first time, but whether it ultimately bears fruit because the both the sower and the receiver are persistent in trying to make the crop.

And so my prayer today is that I persist in preparing my growing conditions so the seed I receive will bear great fruit.     

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