This past week we got one of those “nice” rains—the kind that farmers love, that soaks into the earth rather than running off. It made me think of one of my first trips to Windsor and Essex County, when I was a seminarian in the 1980s. It was then that I first tasted “peaches and cream” corn. One of my classmates came from a farm in the county, and couldn’t talk enough about it. Of course, one bite was all it took to be convinced that he was right. I think of that each time I pass agricultural fields. I never cease to be amazed at how so much food can come from each plant. Jesus often used agricultural images to talk about the Kingdom of Heaven. I think it’s appropriate that the Church presents these readings during the summer, as the plants get bigger and produce food.
This weekend we hear that God’s word comes down like rain, making the earth “bring forth and sprout.” And the Kingdom that sprouts has several characteristics. It is abundant. The Sower scatters seed everywhere, hoping that it will bear fruit. I never cease to be impressed at God’s abundance. I would tend to be much more careful, ensuring that the ground is fully prepared. God, on the other hand, wants to give every possible chance to each seed. And when weeds spring up, he leaves them where they are. He will take care of sorting things out.
We, too, have a role to play with this. Like plants, people need tending. Often those most neglected in the garden need the most care. For me, it’s easy to offer that care to people who are sick and suffering. It’s much harder to offer it to the ones who don’t “deserve” it, people who break the law, who live on the streets, who are addicted to drugs and alcohol—the “bad” people. It’s sometimes hard for me to deal with people who don’t speak my language, or wear different clothing. Jesus, though, encourages us to welcome all—and let God take care of things.
My next reflection will be written in the Holy Land. I ask for your prayers for the group on our pilgrimage to the places where Jesus was born, taught, healed, died, and rose to new life—and where people of today are working for peace and justice. May we all learn to recognize God’s Kingdom, wherever we are.