Monday, June 6, 2011

The Growing Cycle

Friends in Faith:
As I grow in faith, as we each grow in faith, I realize how closely Jesus’ life and our lives with Him follow the natural growth cycle.

Jesus’ life cycle follows an ageless growing cycle: the “preparation” for His birth, the “planting” of the Nativity, the “nurturing cultivation” of His life and teachings, and the “abundance of the harvest” in His dying and Resurrection.

With the Ascension this week the Apostles briefly felt “empty” as Jesus left them alone and went to be with His father in heaven.

“He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons …But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, … When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,… two men in white garments … said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return ….” Acts 1:7-11

This is the same emptiness we feel when we are hungry or have not eaten properly; when we choose a starvation diet or to be nourished by food which is either “sweet” or “rotten.”

Yet we know God never leaves us empty, alone or unfed, if we live for Him and through Him.

Do we believe Jesus when He said “eat my flesh” or are we the Jews who quarreled among themselves and then left Jesus (John 6:66)?

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." Jn 6:51-58

In receiving the Eucharist our growing cycle is always fulfilled. He promised the Apostles the guidance to “new life” in the abundant gift of the Spirit of Pentecost (next Sunday.) And in his flesh and blood given us in the Eucharist at the Last Supper when He said, “Do this in memory of me.” (In old Greek, memory means “make present today.”)

We may each be in a different place in different parts of the life cycle. However, just as the growth of a plant must be nurtured by God thru Mother Nature, so must our own lives be nurtured by receiving the Eucharist regularly and following God’s plan in Holy Scripture. For instance, in our marriages, Ephesians 5:21-33

If we are to live spiritually our life cycle must follow Jesus’ life so that we will wisely “process” the food that He has prepared, planted, cultivated and harvested. We will then be “sustained” by the harvest, and enriched with a new and more abundant life, the richness of heaven.

So where am I in the growing cycle?

Am I in preparation, seeking what is right?

Am I planted firmly in my faith, following the truth?

Am I being cultivated properly, growing in faith by adding spiritual food (regular church attendance, daily prayer, friends, books, music, etc.) which will lead to an abundant harvest?

Am I harvesting, spreading the good news, gathering and mentoring those who are seeking a role model in Christ and spreading new seed to continue the growth cycle?

And regardless of which part of the cycle, am I always feeding myself with His abundant Spirit and the Eucharist—leaving aside the “sweetness” that society tempts us with (materialism); or setting aside the “rotten” untruths of the culture (sexual impurities, gossip, etc)?

Heavenly Father, Praise be your nurturing fulfillment in Your Spirit. Help me to always seek the fulfillment of Your true food (the Eucharist) and to avoid the temptations of the sweet and rotten. Thank you for enriching me with great friends and role models. Thank you for the many blessings You give me and for the richness of faith You have implanted in me. Amen.

Prepare, plant, grow, harvest and be fed abundantly.

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