Anyone who has ever planted something knows how hard it can be, and how important it is to be consistent. When I returned from my time as a Jesuit Volunteer, I really wanted to start a garden and plant something beautiful. It was something that I would create and feel good about being responsible for. However, my good intentions quickly turned to bad excuses and my flowers all died. It was so sad because if I had stayed committed to doing something as simple as watering them, the flowers would have done the rest of the work. But I didn’t put in the time to care for them, and eventually, I had nothing to show for my good intention of creating something beautiful.
With this in mind, today’s Gospel makes me think about whether I am ready for the harvest. At first, I was repulsed by the tenants’ motivations to beat and hurt those who were sent to collect what was owed, simply because they probably didn’t have anything to give. But then I realized that we are the tenants sometimes. If God was to collect the harvest of what was owed…are we ready? What do we have to give? Would we want to get rid of and hate those who were sent to ask for it? Clearly, I have nothing to give from my garden of dead flowers, because I didn’t put in the work. And honestly, I don’t know what the answer would be if God asked how I was caring for creation (i.e. the people around me and the Earth) at this point in my life. The flowers are just a small example of this.
Lent isn’t just about the things we are not doing, or about what we are “giving up,” but also about the things we are actively doing with our lives that bear fruit for the kingdom. Lent is an invitation to reflect, prepare, and make changes in the ways that we are showing gratitude for the gifts of life and creation that we have been given.
So now I ask: How are you caring for God’s creation? What fruit is your life producing for God? When the time comes to collect the harvest, will you be prepared with something to offer?
Alyssa Perez serves as a community organizer for LA Voice, a multiracial and multifaith organizing network in LA County. She was a Jesuit Volunteer in Belize City (’15-’17) and holds theology and political science degrees from Loyola Marymount University and a masters of nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. Having been Jesuit educated for 12 years, she is deeply committed to Ignatian spirituality and building the Beloved community.