Preparing for the harvest

August is coming to an end and September is waiting just around the corner. With this transition, we hail in a time of harvest, a time to collect the rewards of all our hard work. As a child I remember the fragrant scents from the grape vines, and the juicy pears just waiting to be picked and enjoyed. And of course the potatoes were loads of fun to gather, because as a child I loved digging and playing in the dirt, as do many children. 

But all this bounty came with many months of hard work. From preparing the soil, to planting the seeds, watering and weeding, and the daily care to ensure that nothing was harming the new seedlings. The established vines and trees were pruned and cleared of any shoots that would lessen the yield of fruit. Each year the harvest would produce enough vegetables and fruit to take us through the winter months, with more than enough to share with family and friends. 

We are all called to be sowers, care-takers and workers in the vineyard. We, as faith-filled individuals, are asked to help plant the seeds that may one day bear much fruit; keeping in mind that we may not always see the fruit of our labors. We all know the parable of the sower, and we know that our works may not always fall on fertile soil, but our task is to simply keep spreading the Good News, trusting that some of what we sow, does indeed fall on good soil. Many of us are very familiar with the story of Johnny Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, who traveled this continent sowing seeds and planting apple trees, a more modern day example of the sower. By his actions he was able to help so many grow trees that would bear bountiful harvests.

What do we have to offer? What are we called to sow and nurture? I recently attended a Vocations Committee meeting, and the message was very clear, we all have much work to do. We all need to prepare the soil, plant the seeds and pray for a fruitful harvest. The Church is in need of vocations and we are the workers sent out to ensure that seeds are planted and through our faithfulness and love, they will take root. Often when we hear the word vocations, the first thing that comes to mind is priests and yes, we are in need of ordained men, but yet our modern day Church needs every form of vocation. The Church needs religious community members of men and women, and lay ministers to take on the roles of caring for those in the community. 

Vocations are varied, and so very needed. We need priests to shepherd the flocks, young women who are willing to tend to the sheep, lay ministers who will take on the various rolls necessary within the Church; and married couples who bear witness to the love of Jesus for His bride the Church. As we live our lives of faith, we must allow our actions to bear witness to what Jesus Christ is and can do in our lives. It is not simply by our words that seeds take root, our actions serve as nourishment for those who hear the call. 

In a world full of distractions and noise, our roles are to help those around us hear the call. As in 1 Sam 3:3-10, we must become the Eli’s of this world recognizing that God is calling, instructing those individuals who hear His voice, to be still and when they hear the voice again to say, “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.” It is also our responsibility to understand and know what a vocation truly is. As family, friends, and neighbors we are all asked to help tend to those seeds that will with time and prayer bear fruit. 

It is by our actions, not our words that many a vocation is born. Many young men enter into the priesthood because of the prayers and deeds of their parents, namely their mothers. Young women learn to see the face of God in their families and communities, when God is the center of their lives. Young lovers choose to marry when those around them allow Christ to be the foundation for their own Marriages. For me as a wife, I can bear witness to the workings of God in my life and love for my husband. As a mother, I can mirror God’s love for His Son, by my willingness to put all else aside for the sake of my children. And now as a grandmother, my grandsons are a reflection of God’s unconditional love. My life translates and is reflected in my chosen ministries. 

We are challenged to live our lives out loud for the sake of the Kingdom, working the soil, tending the seedlings with the knowledge that God is the Harvester and we are His workers. It is with words, actions and conscientious living that we can bring others to God and to an openness to the stirrings within, producing a bountiful harvest. 

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva lives in Fall River and is a parishioner of St. Michael’s Parish, and she is the Events Coordinator and Bereavement Ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation.

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