We are in the fall of the year, when the harvest is being gathered from the fields. This is the final stage of a process that started in the spring, when the fields were plowed, and the seed was sown. It’s a foundational experience of the familiar departure-return scene.
The scriptures address this today, in their own way. St. Paul tries to establish a sense of belonging among his gentile converts in Ephesus. Uprooted from their origins in an unbelieving milieu, they have been replanted, like so much seed, in the new soil of the Hebrew world, but they have not yet taken root. So they are like aliens, belonging neither here nor there.
St. Paul tries to give them a sense of belonging, as they take root in their new-found faith in Jesus Christ, Who becomes their link to the Chosen People with their long history of association with God. He assures the Ephesians that they are in process of gaining access in one Spirit to the Father in heaven, and thereby becoming a temple and dwelling place of God. They will take root in their new faith.
Jesus had earlier addressed the same concerns of His hearers in comparing them to servants awaiting their master’s return after a long absence: again, the theme of absence and separation emerges. This provides the necessary groundwork to hear, as Good News, that the Master will return, and re-establish the household where the servants can reclaim their sense of rootedness in a familiar place.
The sense of separation, of being scattered like seed in a barren field, primes us to appreciate the prospect of a harvest awaiting us, a gathering in, where we will have reason to engage in thanksgiving, which we anticipate each time we participate in the eucharist.
Fr. Sebastian MacDonald, C.P. is a member of the Passionists community at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.