Harvesting is always a beautiful thing: a seed has grown, has brought forth fruit, and can now be enjoyed or made into a noble beverage, a delicious loaf of bread, or a delightful meal. Some fruit requires a great deal of care and patience, and a great deal of effort, before it can finally be harvested. Other fruit grows without our help and care. We can simply pick it from the trees and bushes. But behind all of this is the blessing that God has placed into the visible creation, a blessing which has lost none of its power to this day.
And what about the invisible creation? It is also subject to the law of sowing, reaping, and harvesting.
God has established His church on earth. He has established the work of redemption and provided all the conditions for it to develop in accordance with His will.
He has sent His Son to become Man and has laid the foundation for redemption through the sacrifice of His Son. He has given His church the apostolate, along with the sacraments that make it possible for mankind to obtain salvation. Everything has come, and still comes, from Him.
We could look at everything as mere spectators and say: “How wonderful to see what God has done! Now all we have to do is wait until everything is ready to be harvested.”
Of course, we also pray for it and we go to the divine services, but is that really enough? Is it enough to say after the divine service: “That was a beautiful sermon, and I really enjoyed the choir today …?” I don’t think so.
In the end it is important for us to be ripe—to stay in keeping with this theme—at the time of the harvest. This does not happen all by itself. We need to do our part for this too. We need to work on ourselves and make sure that the new creation in Christ can grow within us, that the nature of Christ can take shape within us, and that all the good gifts God has given us can develop within us. That is our contribution. It is only a small contribution compared to what God does, but a contribution that we should not underestimate.
The old Adam cannot enter into the kingdom of God. It is impossible. Therefore, we have to work on ourselves.
In large part, our work is to fulfil the vow that we made to the Lord on the day of our confirmation: “I renounce Satan and all his work and ways”—not because we are afraid of punishment, but because there is no room for sin in the kingdom of God, because sin prevents us from becoming worthy, because the work and ways of the Devil threaten to overgrow the good fruit that needs to ripen—just like weeds.
Just as everyone is responsible for his own maturity and worthiness, we are also asked as a community to contribute to the harvest. It is our task as a community, as a congregation, to comfort our brother, assist our sister, help them, pray for them and support their efforts to become worthy, to remain faithful through trials and tribulations, and not to lose courage or hope in times of disappointment. When the time of harvest approaches, all hands are needed. Everyone needs to help along. And when our heavenly Father blesses our small contribution, the harvest will be plentiful.
(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)