Till Your Soul So That It Yields Good Fruit

Christ longs from the cross for your heart, and the whole world, to be aflame with love for God.

Unknown, “Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene as a Gardener,” 18th century
Unknown, “Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene as a Gardener,” 18th century (photo: Public Domain)

Sitting in the pew on a recent Lenten Sunday, I listened to a homily about how God withheld the promise land from those who did not have a trusting relationship with God, and withheld the Tree of Life from Adam and Eve and all of us, because we would have suffered forever had we eaten.

I had to wonder, what other gifts does God long to give us, but waits until we are predisposed to receive? The priest closed with the Gospel, about the gardener preparing the soil and working it for the year, in hopes of harvesting good fruit. 

Reflecting on all of it, we need to remember it is always the year before the owner of the garden, of the fig tree, comes to see if the tree will yield good fruit. We are to be laboring all this time, in hopes of a good harvest. 

So what should we who are in the garden be doing, with all the fig trees around us? We should be working the soil, preparing our souls to receive — by how we live and what we say, and by every interaction we have with those who are far from God. We should be praying each day that we will be good servants, that nothing we do (or don’t do) will draw anyone else away from God, and that we ourselves also always grow closer to him. We should be fasting from whatever it is that feeds our appetites for anything other than God, and likewise promote habits that bring our friends (and ourselves) to experience beauty, community and service. 

God is found in the pots and pans, in the cracks where we allow him access, and he is eager to pour his grace into those moments. Christ longs from the cross for the whole world to be aflame with love for God, to be clamoring to serve as the humblest in the kingdom of God. 

All of this is to remind us that all of life is a Lent, a journey into the wilderness to discover how removed we are by our sin from our Lord. All of life is our time appointed by Heaven, to take steps toward him, and to shed (with God’s grace) everything we seek to hide, so that we no longer cover with fig leaves any part of our souls in the presence of our Lord. 

We also should note that the gardener does not partake of the harvest, but only participates in the preparation of the plant for the master. Too often, we place ourselves before the Lord in the lives of others, but if we understand Our Lady, his most perfect servant, she allowed Christ to become visible to the world through her humility and cooperation with grace. It is Christ who holds her up for us to see — “Behold your mother.”

This Holy Week, in these last few days of Lent, take some time to ask the Lord to send gardeners to prepare your soul, and ask for guidance in tilling the spirits of all you encounter. Ask every day, so that when the time of preparation is finished, you may yield good fruit, and receive from God the good gift he’s waiting to share with you — an eternity in his embrace.