There is a huge spectrum when it comes to how people relate to God. Some folks do the bare minimum, praying every so often, occasionally coming to Mass and maybe reading the Bible every couple of years. Even with this minimal effort at actively nourishing a relationship with God, these same folks often wonder why God seems distant from them and become disillusioned because it does not appear that God is very active in their lives. Then there are those who are quite active in pursuit of God’s attention. Perhaps they go to Mass every day, they pray five or six times a day and read the Bible regularly, all the while telling God exactly what to do and then are disappointed because God did not comply.
There is a Gospel parable about a man who scatters seeds on the land. He goes to sleep and wakes up every day to find the seeds are gradually growing, first a little sprout, then the ear, then the grain on the ear and the crop is ready to harvest (Mark 4: 26-29). The parable teaches us that when it comes to our relationship with God, there are two parts: the things we do and the things God does. This means, unlike the person who barely does anything to nourish a relationship with God, we plant the seeds of our involvement. Unlike the person who thinks that frantic religious activity will get God’s attention, once we have planted the seeds, we rest in the confidence that God is with us and will see to it that the seeds grow.
Our Catholic lives have some basic and necessary seed planting activities. These include regular participation in the Eucharist, making the Sacrament of Penance a part of our lives, reading the Scripture, participating in the activities of the parish community, reaching out to the poor and marginalized, time for quiet prayer and devotion. Then we wait and open ourselves to what God’s grace is doing in our lives. We do not tell God what to do. We plant the seeds of our participation, trusting that God knows what is needed, and then we rest with the certainty that God’s grace is at work.
We do the planting, God’s grace does the growing. How wonderful to look forward to the harvest!