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My Dear Friends,

Today we embark on a five week adventure, exploring the reality of the Harvest Principle. This is the season of harvest. We have experienced a warm September. Peppers and tomatoes are still ripening in my garden and the chard provides me with fresh greens. Whenever I see apple cider in the store, my favorite season is here! But before we dig into the “Harvest” part of things, let’s dwell for a moment on “Principle.”

A principle is a fundamental truth, a ground rule, an anchor for a system of belief. It is a fact that works, that does its job in the world whether we recognize it or not, believe it or not. So it is valuable and wise for us to recognize and dig into this principle.

So, here it goes: you reap what you sow. First on the natural level: sow a tomato seed, get a tomato; blow dandelion seeds all around with the kids, reap a yard full of dandelions! But this reality also exists beyond planting. It is true and most evident from attending to the rhythm of farming and the seasons, but it is true in our relationships, true in our families, true throughout the world.

And while this is not a specifically Christian truth, the authors of sacred Scripture have understood and do acknowledge the reality of the Harvest Principle.  Here are some examples:

Most explicitly we read, “Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows;” and a little further Paul adds, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:7,9).  Paul strives to encourage the Galatians to stay earnest in their efforts for good. Similar advice he passes on to the Corinthians: “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully,” (2 Cor 9:6). These words echo Jesus’ own admonition: “Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Lk 6:38). So we see in the New Testament advice grounded in the Harvest Principle. Its mechanics being employed to encourage generosity and virtue.

But the roots of these ideas wind back through the Old Testament as well. Some common wisdom from the Book of Job “As I see it, those who plow mischief and sow trouble will reap them” (Job 4:8). Proverbs adds to the mix, "Those who sow iniquity reap calamity, and the rod used in anger will fail” (Prov 22:8) and again, “The wicked make empty profits, but those who sow justice have a sure reward” (Prov 11:18). It makes sense that we could find relevant passages in the Wisdom Literature, but there are some very touching verses that arise among the prophets. Hosea cautions “Sow for yourselves justice, reap the reward of loyalty; Break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD,” (Hos 10:12) and Jeremiah chides, “I, the LORD, explore the mind and test the heart, Giving to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds,” (Jer 17:10). While these citations are not exhaustive, they do suggest a longstanding appreciation for the Harvest Principle.

So, in these coming weeks, we look forward to grasping more deeply the reality of the Harvest Principle. This week I would invite you to spend some time with the Scriptures, review these verses and the passages where they are found. One verse is not enough to gain the full sense. These were meant only to whet the appetite. Prayer with the Word of God and so take part in the reality found therein. As we apply the principle to different aspects of our lives, we will learn to appreciate it, so that by the grace of God we can grow in love and so sow love and thus reap more love, to further the Kingdom of God.

Yours in the Lord,
Fr. Joel Wilson