A couple of months ago I was visiting a friend from my college days. I had an enjoyable time with him and his wife, and we also participated in our College Glee Club’s annual spring concert: alumni are always invited at the end of the concert to sing some college songs and the Alma Mater. A marvelous evening, both musically and socially!
The next day, since my friend is very involved in the Society of Friends, we went to Quaker Meeting. Quaker Meeting, for those of you who might not know, is their equivalent of the Mass, with a mighty difference: there is very little talking…sometimes none…and no ritual, liturgy, hymns, or sermon. Quakers sit “expectantly waiting.” It is not a time for thinking or remembering the worldly distractions of the past week. It is not a time for intellectual exercises. It is a time to “come with mind and heart prepared,” to bring “neither a determination to speak nor a determination to remain silent.” If one is moved to speak, one ought to speak, because it may be the word of God moving in you.
So as I sat there, I began wondering what I was doing as an Old Catholic, and especially as a Dominican. It was a serious question, and I had no answer in those moments. So I prayed, and I asked for guidance in my mission.
And then my friend stood, moved by that still, small voice within, and began what is known as “spoken ministry.” He was worrying about the turmoil in the world today and what to do about those whom he felt were acting against others’ best interests, leading them, and us, down a sad and perilous path. “How do I react to them?” he said. “How do I love them, as I should?”
He went on to talk about an article he had just read, “The Seed of God” by Elizabeth Bathurst. In the article, he read that we all have the seed of God within us. With some, it is ignored or deliberately left untended. Others recognize it and cultivate it. But that seed is in everyone…it is from, and of, God.
And so, how can we condemn someone we think is doing harm? How can we censure them? If “that of God” is within them, who are we to judge?
I wasn’t moved to think about the answer to that question, but about the answer to my prayers…guidance in my mission.
There it was.
First, let’s look back at today’s first reading. “My word…shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” And then look at the Responsorial Psalm: “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.” And the second reading that talks about creation, harvest, first fruits.
All of these horticultural references. And that comment I once heard: “God doesn’t call the prepared, God prepares the called.”
My mission. Our mission as friars and sisters in the Order of Preachers. That morning, God was cultivating his seed within me, tending, watering, nurturing.
Now comes today’s Gospel: A sower went out to sow.
Let me tell you that I was not sure how to present this experience I had at Quaker Meeting. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Should I write an article? Should I talk it over with our Prior? What do I do with it.
And then I was assigned the sermon for the 15th Sunday of Kingdomtide. “A sower went out to sow.”
Jesus has already told me what my mission is. I was called, and, as he has done time and time again, God is preparing me. (I must admit here I’m a pretty hard row to hoe…) God is telling me once again that my mission is, as he often says, to go out into the fields and work for the harvest.
I’m a farmer of souls. God has sown the seed in all of us, and I am called once again, to tend it, to water it, to cultivate the soil in which it lies, to fertilize, prune, and then to harvest the yield. I am a farmer in the fields of the Lord.
Aren’t we all just farmers? In our Order, we are proclaimers of the Word. But to proclaim effectively we must first till the ground and cultivate the seed of God that is already planted.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says that the seed of God is given to all. Some ignore it, some reject it, some are not even aware that it is there. But for those who hear the word of God and understand it the yield is a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
As I sat in Quaker Meeting I was being prepared for this Sunday’s sermon. I was shown that there is a seed in all of us. I was shown that there are garden tools in the shed. I was shown the fertilizer and the ground to fertilize. I am called to help those whose seed is on rocky ground, among thorns, threatened to be devoured by negative forces.
And still God prepares me. Because in the face of such a daunting task, who am I to help bring in such a harvest? I have been called, and I am still, and probably always, being prepared to go out into the fields.
- Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower.
All who come to him will have life forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Lord, in your mercy, bless our eyes and our ears that we may receive your word and understand it. Bless our path to the fields of the harvest. And bless our work to deliver the harvest to you, who live and reign with God and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.