“Daddy, when will the leaves change colors?” With that, I knew I was entering into the time when my 8 year old was beginning to understand the changing of the seasons. “Do they call it ‘Fall’ because the leaves fall on the ground?” Wonderful!
I confess a deep love for Fall, mainly because of my childhood growing up in the rural American South. I also confess an ontological connection with the soil of my youth. There is something special about helping your grandmother snap beans and “put them up” through the canning process of Mason jars and boiling water in large pots. I also remember cutting okra on hot summer days with a long sleeve shirt on so I wouldn’t get “eaten up” by the pricklies on the okra! Nice memories that, my children will only have on specialized field trips to farms. Modern life is too far removed from the earth!
But there is something spiritual about harvest time. The lessons of just the right time to pick the tomatoes, dig up the potatoes, cut the corn, and gather the “fruit of the earth” teaches us valuable lessons about our own souls. There are seasons of life when we are ready to move forward and hear clearly the call of the “Lord of the Harvest” to enter the “field already white” and gather the most important “fruit” in all the universe; the fruit of the repentant person.
In today’s Gospel Lesson we are invited to see such a season with the Son of God and His wisdom in “harvesting” Apostles that He will, in turn send out to “harvest” the whole world.
Look at Matthew 9:36-38; 10:1-8. Here we see the Lord “moved with compassion” when He saw the crowd because they were so needy, so harassed by life, and so much like “lost sheep.” He was referring to His own people, the Jews of His day. Even though they had the Scriptures, the Prophets, and the Temple worship, they were lost and the time of their redemption had arrived. So, our Lord, in His customary compassion “harvested” 12 Apostles from these “lost sheep” and then sent them (“Apostle” means “sent one”) to harvest the rest who were ready to be freed from their confusion and darkness.
At that time, when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38
The Lord goes on to tell these newly “harvested” Apostles to go and share the message of the Kingdom. But He didn’t just send them out to preach; He empowered them to heal! And He further told them NOT to go and do these works among the Gentiles because that “harvest” wasn’t ready. It wouldn’t be ready until years after Pentecost! But when it was ready, the Lord had already “harvested” an Apostle for us as well!
The beauty and the power and the wisdom of knowing when to harvest is only surpassed by the power of this truth: The Lord has already told us it is time to harvest. The fields are “white”; the grain is ready; to risk not having workers to go into the fields means allowing the harvest to rot! God forbid.
Today, what season of life are you in? Where is your own life “ripe” for harvesting the “fruit” of your spiritual maturity? Are you actively and purposefully allowing your life to be “watered” by the wisdom of the faith? “Fertilized” by the beauty of the Liturgy? “Pruned” by the wise Lord of the Harvest from those areas of your life that are no longer life-giving? And finally, are you willing to take up your Lord’s heart cry of looking for “laborers” who will go into the field and harvest others? The Lord of the Harvest looks into your eyes today and asks you “are you willing”, because there are so many who are ready!
P.S. Why are icons present from the earliest days of faith in humanity? What is it about imagery that is common to every culture, religion, and era? Sunday night, you and I will talk about this and more on Faith Encouraged LIVE with Fr. Barnabas. I look forward to talking to you Sunday at 8 PM Eastern on AncientFaith.com
It is very interesting how the resurrections are tied to the harvest. First, our Lord’s Resurrection happened on the very day the first fruits of the barley harvest were being offered in the Jerusalem Temple. Second, the spiritual First Resurrection of the Church began on Pentecost, the very day the first fruits of the wheat harvest were being offered in the Jerusalem Temple. This spiritual harvest of the First Resurrection has been ongoing since AD. 33. It could very well be that the General Resurrection and judgments of the Day of the Lord could begin during the Fall harvest season fulfilling this pattern. Although there are Church Fathers that opine that the events of the Day of the Lord will happen in 24 hours or less, the weight of the Scriptural evidence seems to indicate that the judgments and resurrection harvest of the Day of the Lord will take place over a period of time extending beyond three and half years. As I believe that the length of the Days of Creation are not limited to 24 hours, but are defined by the specific action of God, as confirmed in Genesis 2:4, it seems reasonable to me that the Day of the Lord would follow this pattern. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on these matters.
Thanks for the comment. I find it intriguing.
But I would like to add that the Church has purposely avoided setting any of the miriade speculations concerning specifics of the Day of the Lord precisely because the specifics elude us. And I am convinced this is done purposefully by the Holy Spirit to avoid the endless speculations concerning specifics so that we will focus on the very reason for having any information about the Day of the Lord at all: to spur us to preparation. My greatest critique of the so-called “dispensationalist” theory of the Parousia is because it is distracting and not sober.
So, to comment on your own thoughts; they may well be right on the money. After all, our Creator is orderly and dependable. However, I do not trust my finite mental abilities to so accurately discern His ways as to make definitive statements concerning these mysteries.
But thanks for the mental gymnastics. I find your thoughts compelling and fascinating.
Well said Father. The beauty of our Orthodox Faith is that it give us all the tools we need to be ready for the Parousia. If we are prepared like the wise virgins, as the Church instructs us to be, we need not be concerned with the fate of the foolish virgins and unbelievers. The Lord’s tough love will hopefully bring them into repentance and salvation.