SEPTEMBER 18, 2013 - MASS FOR GOOD HARVEST

2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-12, 16 ; MARK 4:26-29

Havest

THE EARTH OF ITSELF YIELDS FRUIT.  Jesus pronounced this parable based on his observation of the spontaneous growth of crops from a single seed to full grown plants that serve as a main ingredient for human nutrition.  He compares this quiet, automatic process to the growth of God's grace that results in the establishment of the kingdom of heaven.  This interior growth is largely hidden even to the person in whom this process so quietly takes place.  At the time our Lord made this comparison very little was known about the details of the process that resulted in such growth.  Saint Augustine has commented that the change from a seed to a mature plant is an unacknowledged miracle.  Today when science has revealed the complex chemical cycle that constitutes the complex chemistry and physics of this transaction, there still remains an aura of admiration at such ingenuity as nature manifests in this process.

Already in the fourth century, the desert monk Evagrius Ponticus had evolved a system of spirituality based on his insight that hidden within the workings of nature and in the events of human history are the subtle workings of divine Providence.  He understood that by attentive contemplation of such natural events so embedded in the workings of time, and in history, humans can arrive at increasing knowledge of the intelligence, power, energy, beauty, and goodness of their creator.  He discovered by his own experience that such meditative study and reflection, made in faith, serve to purify and gradually transform our senses.  They become more responsive to this divine presence and activity within creation.  Not only plants and fruits but also the human body and its workings manifest basic features of God's nature when understood in depth.  By engaging in such prayerful reflection our heart is rendered increasingly perceptive of this active presence of our Creator.  Saint Paul had already hinted that by the contemplation of nature we can encounter the living God.  For Christ is the head of all and "in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17)  The transcendent God remains accessible to us through His incarnate Word, active in the very structure and operations of creation, both in nature and in human affairs.

We commemorate today in this Eucharist this mystery of the continuing Providential care for nature and for our human race.   We honor the divine love and wisdom ever active and accessible to our spirit.  At this celebration we express our gratitude to our Father and his beloved Son who transforms the gifts of the earth, represented by this bread and wine, soon to be transformed at this altar into our spiritual food and drink, the body and blood of Jesus, our God and Savior.


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger