21st Friday in Ordinary Time
2 Thessalonians 3: 6-12, 16; Mark 4: 26-29
Abbey day of prayer for the fruits of the earth
As we keep a day of prayer for the fruits of the earth, we turn to the Master of the Universe and Creator of the World that He would use us and the work of our hands to nourish the work of His hands. God created the earth and all it contains and entrusted the cultivation of the land and the sowing of the seed to us. It is God alone Who can give success to the work of our hands. It is He Who created the heavens above and caused the sun to shine, and the rain to fall. It is He Who caused the plants to grow and the land to produce its increase. The heavens are His and all they contain, but the earth He has given to man. Through the grace of our baptism we are made partakers of His fruitful creativity. By means of the Incarnation, He has become a sharer in our labors.
Since it is God Who provides the seed for the sowing and He Who makes the ground fertile, we pray that He would grant us a bountiful harvest. We know that God provides the rain and causes the plants to grow. For this reason, we ask the Bountiful Giver of all good gifts to strengthen our bodies to tend His Garden as we provide for ourselves and for those He has placed in our care. Martin Luther offered this reflection: “God makes all creation help provide the comforts and necessities of life — sun, moon, and stars in the heavens, day and night, air, fire, water, the earth and all that it brings forth, birds and fish, beasts, grain and all kinds of produce.”
It is important that we be mindful of the rhythms of the seasons, spring and summer, autumn and winter. By the work of our hands we make the fruits of God’s immeasurable love available to others. As we walk through in the bakery or walk along the fields, we need to keep in mind that from God comes every good and perfect gift: the rich soil, the smell of fresh-turned earth, the keenness of the winter’s frost, the rumble of the machine, the glean of a cutting blade; the blistered hand, the sweat of the brow, the skill of those who plow; the beauty of a clean-cut furrow, the sweep of a well-plowed field. Everything we see, everything we hear and everything we do reveals the mind of the Creator. Today’s rites remind us that we are dependent upon God’s awesome mercy and to ask Him bless the productivity of the earth as well as the work of our hands. Even though we are not personally tilling the soil, it is good for us keep in touch with the nature around us and to realize that the liturgical calendar is tied to the changing of the seasons.
Baptism has brought us into the Garden of God’s delight. Our Christian life begins with the implanted Word. Through prayer and reflection, we witness the breaking open of the husk as the seed puts forth its new growth. Watered and nurtured by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the Word takes root in the depths of our being. Planted in the seedbed of our hearts, the seed sprouts and grows until it puts forth the full sheath, providing bountiful seed to be cast freely for the next generation.
Almighty Father and Master of the Harvest, let every seed that You have planted in the past, every seed that You are planting in the present and every seed that You plant in the future will bear fruit in our lives for the benefit of others and for the building up of Your Kingdom.