August 10, 2020
by Colleen Chiacchere
Creighton University's Magis Catholic Teacher Corps
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Lectionary: 618

2 Corinthians 9:6-10
Psalms 112:1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9
John 12:24-26

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering Corporal Works of Mercy

Our readings today speak beautifully of the cycle of nature – sowing seeds, producing fruit and growing – and how they are connected to spiritual lessons of dying and of God’s love growing in us.  Here in the midst of August in the United States, these references are familiar and relevant to me as I spend a good amount of time in my backyard during these beautiful, warm summer days.

We read in John’s Gospel: unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

In my backyard, there has been a bit of dying and resurrecting lately. A example, in a way, of a paschal mystery. Our giant hundred year old ash tree growing about ten feet to the west of our home, needed to be taken down last month.  It was stricken with disease, preventing its ability to grow and sustain itself, and the threat of the ash borer was imminent.  My family had grown to love and appreciate this tree for its beauty, shade and tall branches, for swings in its last years.  We watched in awe and in sadness as the professional tree service workers navigated power lines and painstakingly removed each limb, and then the trunk, of this giant beauty.  A few days later, the stump was removed, creating a large amount of mulch that we spread out to create an open canvas of a new garden area.

Everything had to be reimagined; what we knew as our backyard was no longer.  The hostas that enjoyed shade were all of a sudden suffering with too much sunlight.  Our home felt the warm sun beaming through our west windows.   A few days after that, we planted a fast growing red oak sapling in a nearby spot.  In a matter of just a few weeks, our backyard is on its way to being transformed into an area that hopefully will produce much fruit…native perennials for pollinators, an herb and veggie garden in future years and a new tree with the potential for shade, beauty and wildlife homes.  That’s our hope – that the ash tree dying will open up an opportunity for new and abundant vegetation to support and sustain new life. 

Isn’t that the hope of our faith, too?  Jesus continually calls us to join him on a path that requires understanding and enduring death before experiencing new life in the resurrection.

A few questions that might help us unpack these themes.  (I invite you to perhaps stay with one that resonates with you.)

In what ways is God sowing seeds in me these days?

Where does my faith life need nurturing?

What needs to die in me so that I may produce new fruit, and new fruit, in abundance?

Where is new growth possible in my life these days? 

What do I value so much that I am willing to die for it?

We pray, on this feast of St. Lawrence (a martyr of the early Church), for strength to die for our faith (in whatever way that looks for us), and be reborn and experience new life in Christ.  St. Lawrence, pray for us!

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