It was raining that evening, as I recall. Standing at the foot of my grandparents’ graves on the day of my grandmother’s burial. And I as stood there, reflecting on the homily I had heard earlier in the day that spoke again and again about the glory of God, I looked at that hallowed ground (ground I would return to bless on the day I was ordained), and I thought Here we plant the seed of Glory. Here we bury those bodies that will be raised on the last day and made like Christ’s own in glory. Here we plant the seed of Glory.
But wasn’t that what we were always doing? Isn’t that the great mission of this life, to plant, cultivate and care for the seed of eternal life? To bring the divine life entrusted to us, seen in the white garment given in baptism, unstained into eternal glory. Here in this place, in our souls, in our lives, we are planting the seed of glory.
The psalmist echoes so beautifully the words of Isaiah and the parable of Jesus: The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.
The seed, the Word of God, will yield a fruitful harvest when it falls on good ground. And Christ has told us that the Word, the message of salvation, goes out even though some will fall on the beaten path and on rocky soil. Some seeds will not take root. But each season the sower returns to plant anew. Christ does not give up just because the harvest is not fruitful at the first planting. Again and again, the Word of God comes to us calling us to life in the kingdom.
And maybe we were the rocky soil, or the beaten path when first we encountered the Lord Jesus. For all of us the cares of the world and the assaults of the devil work unceasingly to turn our gaze, to turn our lives away for the Kingdom. But Isaiah tells us that the Word will not return to God empty-handed. Christ will not abandon us because we did not produce a fruitful harvest this season. He will plant again until he finds good soil, and we were created to be good soil for the harvest.
At the dawn of creation, recorded in the first chapters of Genesis, the man was given three tasks by the Lord. The first was to name the animals, the second to guard against the fruit of the forbidden tree, and the third was to till the soil. So the task of tilling the soil, of making rocky and trampled dirt, into good ground for an abundant harvest was given to us at creation. And so we have to ask, how do we till the soil of our souls to be good ground for the seed of eternal glory? What is the rain that will water our souls to make them fertile and fruitful?
In Baptism, we were claimed for Christ our Savior by the sign of his holy Cross. We were reborn of Water and the Spirit and received within us the very life of the Holy Trinity. We received the seed of eternal glory and Christ claimed us for himself. In Confirmation, we receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit that consecrates us to be Christians in the world. We are strengthened for mission. In our daily encounter with the Word of God in the Sacred Scriptures we grow in our knowledge and love of the God who loves us. When we stumble on the stones and pebbles of temptation and sin, the grace of God will purify and till our souls in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we encounter the mercy of God we are made new, and ready once again to bring the harvest. In the great Sacrament of the Eucharist, we receive the most precious body, blood soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. We receive in Holy Communion the pledge of eternal glory, and we are strengthened to be the good ground that will yield a fruitful harvest. In the gift of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, we encounter Christ the Sower and are transformed. We are transformed to be more like Jesus.
But it is not only Christ in glory that we become. Often in our lives, we will be called, invited even, to come closer to the cross of our savior. In the experience of suffering in this life, physical, moral, spiritual, emotional, and mental, the soil of our souls can be made ready for the most abundant harvest. St. John of the Cross taught that we will grow more through suffering than through anything else. And to endure and embrace the sufferings of this life in union with the cross of Christ is often a great cross itself. But the soil will be tilled and the harvest will be abundant, and the Word of God will not return empty-handed, for in the prayers of his suffering children the Father hears the voice of one like Jesus. Take heart, beloved, the master of the harvest has not abandoned you. As St. Paul says to you and to me, I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.
Christ the sower has called us to eternal life with him. Through the sacraments, the reading of the scriptures, and the sufferings we experience in this life Christ transforms us into good soil. We are made ready for the seed to fall. And Christ himself says of my life and your life, Here we plant the seed of Glory!