Rejoicing in the Harvest

Thu, 02/01/2007

Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work…I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, "One sows and another reaps." I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.' (John 4:34-38, NRSV) When you think of a field ripe for harvesting, how do you feel? Excited to get to work? Or overwhelmed by the size of the job? Jesus shows his disciples that there is enough work for everyone to keep busy. But he also reminds them that they are not alone in that work, and assures them that their work will not go unrewarded. Ending hunger is enough of a job to keep us busy in the field for a long time. If it were left to you, or me, or any one person, it might never get done. But Jesus reminds us to raise our eyes and look around. See how much of this work has already been done by others. Think of the sowing and cultivating that have gotten us this far, and look ahead to the fulfillment of all our labors. A prayer attributed to Oscar Romero describes what we are about: "We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise." With God's grace we can let go of the need to do it alone, and celebrate the part that each one of us contributes to the whole. The day is coming when we will set down our tools and declare the end of hunger. Imagine the rejoicing on that day! Sowers and reapers will rejoice together. Those of us still laboring at the end of the day will receive no more and no less than those who preceded us in this work. We will celebrate together as we tell the world, "Hunger is history!" We have a great opportunity at making hunger history with policy changes in the reauthorized Farm Bill. In 2007 we have a historic opportunity to reduce hunger and poverty both in the U.S. and in poor countries around the world. The U.S. Congress will reauthorize the Farm Bill - something that happens every five years. This piece of legislation is one of the most far-reaching sets of laws in our country and touches all of us. It has an impact on everything from energy to soil conservation, from cash payments for farmers to the Food Stamp Program. Jesus proclaimed to the synagogue, at the beginning of his ministry, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." We bring the good news of Jesus by calling on our nation's leaders to provide for those who are vulnerable in our midst.