Have you ever noticed the frequency of growth images in Scripture? It seems that you can hardly turn a page without reading something about growth or change. That’s because the folks who wrote the pages of the Bible lived in agrarian times … these were images they were familiar with. Unless we’re gardeners or farmers or bakers, we are more familiar with the results of the growth that took place: the food on the table, the clothes we wear, the furnishings in the house, etc.
We forget the fact that everything that lives, grows. Furthermore, everything that grows changes. This change is guided by the DNA in every living thing. The seed becomes the corn. The acorn, the oak. The tadpole, a frog. The caterpillar, a butterfly. The babe, the adult. The growth will always be true to type: an acorn will never become a maple, for example.
Growth can be stopped or altered by outside influence, however. The squirrel eats the acorn. The cocoon gets crushed. Polluted water changes the tadpole. An abused child struggles to become a healthy adult.
Now let’s suppose we have spiritual DNA. Here we’re coming to the focus of this Sunday’s Scripture readings. At our Baptism, the Spirit was implanted in us. Taking into consideration the talents and limitations imposed by our physical DNA, the Spirit grows us gently into the person God wants us to be (notice the phrasing … we don’t do the growing … the Spirit does.). The Spirit guides our human potential, the reach of our heart, the depth of our spirit. But outside influences can also alter that growth; we are a broken people living in a broken world that cares only about results. When results aren’t forthcoming, the person is literally or figuratively discarded.
The results are in God’s hands. He has promised us the Kingdom. He has promised us eternal life. He has freed us from an obsession with sin and with “doing things to get to heaven.” All He wishes is for us to sit back, contemplate our lives, and see and cherish the growth that has taken place over the years. Yesterday we grew; today we are growing; tomorrow we will grow.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.