2022-07-03 4th Sunday after Pentecost
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Once there was a young boy. Out in the back yard on their acreage was an old gnarled up fruit tree. It had lots of green leaves but hadn’t produced any fruit for a number of years. High up in the branches hidden from view by the leaves was a perfect little spot, a hideaway, for the little boy to play and dream away the hours in the day. It was there in that tree that he was a Space Ship commander flying to unknown galaxies and strange new worlds. Up there, he was Tarzan, living in a jungle world, swinging from the vines. There amidst the branches he was a Pirate Captain, looking for buried treasure beyond all imagination. There too the little boy would go when he needed to sulk, when he was misunderstood or when he felt all alone. The old tree was his special hideaway. You can only imagine how the little boy felt when he overheard his parents talking about cutting down that old gnarled up fruit tree that hadn’t produced any fruit for years. What could the little boy do? If he protested, the secret hideaway would be a secret no more! But then inspiration struck and he came up with a marvelous plan. Since there were a number of apple trees close by, he and his friend went out and picked a huge basket full of them, went back to the old tree and tied the stems of the apples to almost every branch on the tree! The next morning the boy’s Dad went out and fired up the chainsaw. The little boy waited with the bated breath and greatest anticipation to see how his Dad would react! He immediately turned off the saw, went inside and said to his wife “You’re not going to believe this. A miracle took place last night. That old barren fruit tree is chock full of apples!” “What?! That’s incredible!” his wife replied. “Yes,” said the Dad pausing for a moment, “and its a double miracle because it’s a pear tree!”
We chuckle because apple trees produce apples and pear trees produce pears. When you plant an apple tree, you expect it to produce apples, right? When you sow wheat, you expect a wheat crop. Barley from barley. It’s that old adage “everybody knows you reap just what you sow.” We’ve probably all heard this before. But it’s true and it’s Biblical. Or, better said, it’s true because it’s Biblical! St. Paul writes: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
“God is not mocked.” It’s kind of a stern warning for God’s Baptized people. Perhaps we think from time to time that we can pull the wool over God’s eyes, pulling a fast one on Him. But we ought to think again. God is not mocked and He alone can peer into the window of a person’s soul seeing what goes on in secret (MT 6:4). So this warning ought to be a tough reminder, a stern memo that we will reap exactly what we sow. This same thing goes for criminals and other scum bags. A local Moose Jaw man had his truck broke into a little while back. And by broke into I mean, someone opened the unlocked door and proceeded to steal all the money from the man’s wallet, that also happened to be sitting there, as well as his parking meter change. Now, one could say “serves him right for leaving his wallet in the unlocked car!” But regardless, he was the victim of a crime. And the punk who stole the money thinks he got off scot-free. But God saw what took place in secret. And what was sown in iniquity will be likewise reaped.
St. Paul pulls us into this talk about farming, seed sowing and reaping to draw us into a more deliberately Spiritual approach to life and faith. If we spend our time sowing good seeds, we will reap good seed. We start out our Christian life with Baptism, planting the good seed of forgiveness, life and salvation into our hearts and minds by faith. But, what happens to the seed that sprouts but gets no water, or the sun comes out and scorches it, or weeds come and choke it? It doesn’t do well. In fact, it dies, doesn’t it? The same thing can be said for faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism plants this seed, but if this garden of faith isn’t tended, fed and watered, there’s a good chance it will wither up and die. And we don’t want that! Rather, we want to see that good seed grow strong and thrive, producing far more than was actually planted.
It’s just like farming. You think about the amount of seed you load up in the hopper of your seeder. Then fast forward to fall and think about how many truck loads of grain you take off the land. It’s incredible, really. You start out with a little bit and get 8 zillion metric tonnes more in return! This is how faith is designed to work. “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor 9:10). From a little bit of good comes lots and lots of good!
But on the flip side, from a little bit of bad comes lots of bad. People in the beginning, in another ancient garden experienced this first hand. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). It just seemed like an innocent piece of fruit, hanging from an innocent looking tree. What could it hurt? Yet when Adam and Eve ate of it, they surely died, just as God said they would. And more so, they opened the flood gates of death and sin for all of humanity since. Every time we stand in front of a grave stone in a cemetery we reap that seed sown way back at the dawn of time. “Everybody knows you reap just what you sow. What goes around comes around” The old adage proves true again. Death, sin, suffering, shame, pain, separation, heart ache – this is the crop of iniquity. It all started with just one little transgression and then BAM! The whole place has gone down hill since. It’s like a little bit of Canada thistle in the wheat field. A little bit of bad quickly becomes a lot of bad!
Jesus Himself uses another farming image when He talks about His crucifixion. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (JN 12:23-24). Christ Jesus dies on the cross to utterly destroy the power of death, to break its teeth (Ps. 3) and restore people to life. The power of His cross is given to us in Holy Baptism, and that grain of wheat that died now bears much fruit within us. And it continues to bear fruit! St. Paul spurs us on, encouraging us not to sow seed to the flesh and reap corruption, but rather, sow to the Spirit and from the Spirit reap eternal life!
How does St. Paul say we should sow the good seed of the Spirit? It’s simple: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). Continue to do good to those around us, sowing the good seed of God’s Kingdom wherever we can. This good seed produces good fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23). Simple examples of sowing good can be seen Matthew 25. Feed the hungry. Bring water to the thirsty. Welcome the stranger. Clothe those needing clothes. Visit the sick and those in prison. These simple acts of mercy change the world because people know you care. And when they ask why you care you tell them it’s because God cares. And the good seed of the Gospel continues to take root in the hearts and minds of people and grow, producing a crop 30, 60 and even 100 fold! Sow the good, now and forever more. Amen!