15th Sunday of the Year: The garden of our hearts

Garden 1

Study:  What are some virtues that you would like to cultivate in your life?  What are some vices that need to be weeded out?

Pray:  Everyday provides a new opportunity for personal growth.  Ask the Lord for the strength and wisdom to grow in holiness.

Serve:  Name one little thing you can do for another; now make it happen.

Mass Readings – 15th Sunday of the Year

Since returning to the Cathedral as rector eight years ago, one thing I miss is gardening.  Time is precious, and my current work does not readily lend itself to the effort it takes to keep a garden.  Yet all things being equal, there is no other place in the summer that I would rather be than rooting around in the dirt – picking weeds, pruning, staking, watering, hoeing, and “looking at” the plants.

Gardening is a metaphor that teaches us about ministry and life.  Spending time in the garden forces us to slow down and attend to a cycle that is not our own.  We pay closer attention to the wonder and beauty of nature, and we can be surprised and  amazed by what we see.

Plants truly are hopeful optimists in a world of pessimism.  Every year flowers and vegetables produce thousands of seeds, each seed capable of new and beautiful life.  Yet for all these seeds only a few survive.  Some are taken as produce, some by the weather, and some by the rabbits!

Nature knows that life is difficult.  There are so many obstacles and challenges in the world that it is essential to cast hundreds and thousands of seeds, just so that a few might be able to continue the cycle of life.  The power of nature is that even a few seeds can change the landscape, bringing nourishment and beauty to the earth.

Jesus knew this.  He spoke to hundreds and thousands of the hope and life that are possible in His Father’s Kingdom.  He cured countless people and preached tirelessly to any who would hear.  Like the garden plants, he cast LOTS of seed.

Yet many people did not act on his message.  Many mocked him, plotted against him, or simply walked away.  Some got excited for a time, but then they got bored, discouraged, or caught up in other interests.  Simply put, much of the seed cast by Jesus was lost or destroyed.

Yet in his parable to the crowds Jesus shows his tremendous hope.  It only takes a few seeds for an incredible harvest!  A 30x, 60x, or 100x harvest was amazing in the ancient world (and it is not too shabby today!).  For those who heed the word of God, they, too, will yield a crop that will defy worldly doubt.

As the Master Gardener, the Lord continues to work in our lives.  The invitation today is that our faith will take root and flourish in our hearts.  We are given the chance to garden our souls, fostering a faith that is worthy of the Lord’s harvest.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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