I love autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. School starts again, the evenings are a little chilly -- it’s not really cold yet but a sweater sure feels cozy. I love the Gospel images of the harvest – “the harvest is plenty, laborers are few. Come with me into the fields.” But this Old Testament harvest image is very frightening -- full of malice and destruction. I have fond feelings about autumn, but I have to remember that fall is a time of death and destruction. The ripe fruits are picked off. The dead stems are plowed under. When the plant reaches the fullness of its cycle it has to die or at least go dormant before the new seeds are planted in spring. The destruction in the beginning of the first reading is followed by hopefulness in the second part when the “mountains shall drip with new wine and the hills shall flow with milk.”
Autumn is a preparation of the death of the winter, but from that winter comes another spring and more hope. Shelley says, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” In the cycle of the year, all the seasons are necessary. I’m not a big fan of the extremes. I don’t love winter or summer, but I understand their place and their necessity in the scheme of things. There is a time and a season to everything.
In the gospel, a woman calls from the crowd blessing the mother of Jesus – the womb, the springtime, the seed, the beginning. And Jesus replies that those who hear his words and observe them – the autumn, the harvest – are to be blessed here instead. The seed, the springtime was the starting point, but his fulfillment is here in his preaching – his autumn, his harvest.
The harvest is plenty – we should all come with him into the fields.
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