27th Sunday Reflection
On this feast day of our seraphic father St Francis, we reflect on his words contained in the Canticle of creation:
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colours.
The Canticle of Creation: Saint Francis of Assisi
We also have sprouted from the Earth our mother, with God whom we call father breathing the spirit of life into creation. God as the gardener who plants the Garden of Eden; the one who plants, nourishes, and prunes. God walking with us in the cool of the evening to delight with us in this great beauty. God as landowner, protector, and the vintner to gladden our hearts. This beautiful image of God with us, sharing a glass of wine at sunset, delighting in the fragrance of this verdant and fertile garden.
The Genesis saga unfolds with God entrusting the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of humanity to take care of them, master them by labour, and enjoy and share their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race.
Cooperation, community, and fraternity between God and humanity, and between humanity and creation, falters, and the new Genesis after the destruction of our world is complete begins when the waters subside; Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. (Gen 9-20)
Again, and again we are faced by the same saga of the destruction of creation and the renewal of Eden; civilisations and empires are built, reach their zenith then crumble to dust. This is the cycle that continues as we forget our Genesis, a dark night of the soul follows, and then a new Genesis.
Today the church teaches that in our use of things, man and woman should regard the external goods they legitimately own not merely as exclusive to themselves but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as themselves. The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to our families and to others.
What has been the harvest that I have produced? Jesus’ words are a reminder that we too are called to participate in producing a harvest. Participation in the realisation of God’s Kingdom is necessary for life that is verdant and fertile. Have I perhaps been squirrelling away the produce necessary to sustain the lives of others?
As we enter spring here in South Africa, the vineyards are waking to new life. Tiny buds appear on the bare branches and before long the whole vineyard is a blaze of delicate green soaking up sunlight and air. Deep in the soil, the roots drink in the rain and search for the minerals needed to form the rich fruit of the harvest.
And so, we reflect: Have you walked with God in the cool of the evening? Have you ever stood with the People on the shores of the Red Sea trapped between the waters and the angry Egyptians? Have you ever celebrated the second Passover – in the total peace and safety of the ‘desert of Sinai’ in the wonderful ‘twilight of the evening’? Have you visited with the holy family, with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in their home at Nazareth?
Happy the one who finds pleasure in the Law of Yahweh and meditates on his Law, day, and night. They are like a tree that is planted by water streams, yielding its fruit in season, its leaves never-fading …(Psalm 1)
Each one of us will eventually fulfil our promise and our calling, to fertilise the earth that feeds creation. Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face. I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility.
Like the Son we reflect, to give light, life, and sustenance. Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun, who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently. O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
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