By Dina Dow

The Sunday Mass readings for the upcoming weeks begin with a “fall” and end with an agricultural lesson. The messages from each yield insight into reasons for redemption, reasons for hope and reasons for courage.

You can hide, but not for long

The account from the Book of Genesis begins with the effects of original sin. Adam and Eve, knowing what evil is, experience the brokenness of inner harmony with God so much so they attempt to hide from him. To us this sounds ridiculous. Yet, think of a time when you made a personal choice that you wish God would just look the other way? The original fracture chosen by humanity not only broke harmony with God, it also broke union with people and creation, and thus opened the gates of evil into the world resulting in decay and death.

But, as we pray in Psalm 130, “With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.” We also connect to Genesis 3:15 (aka the “Proto-Evangelium” – first announcement) the promise of hope, inclusive of love and mercy. God punishes the serpent, placing it at odds with the woman. God tells the evil tempter that the woman’s offspring will crush its head in defeat. This is the first promise of redemption for humanity, giving a reason for hope in the one that is to come, and pointing to the Messiah. The woman is Mary. Thus, the knot caused by Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience, as Jesus, her “offspring” by the power of the Holy Spirit, came to restore humanity and free all from the enslavement of sin.

We walk by faith

Courage. St. Paul writes in his Second Letter to the Corinthians that it takes courage to walk by faith, for we live for what we are unable to see but we know and believe it to be true. Hence, our reason for courage is because Jesus showed courage by his mission. There were days where critics were his own relatives, who were concerned he had gone off the deep end, labeling him a crazy. Even the scribes accused him of being the devil, despite the fact they witnessed miracles performed by him.

We know Jesus acted out of love in all he did. This love is steeped in passion, zeal, consistency and power; a power that heals, restores and redeems. Jesus shows us the power of courage when faced with rejection, especially from those closest to him. Instead of running away from his critics, he invites them to a deep understanding of forgiveness, with a warning that “offense against the Holy Spirit is an everlasting sin.” On the other hand, those who faithfully follow him, as modeled by his mother, Mary, and do the will of God will be redeemed. Thus, we walk by faith in the light of love and mercy of God, without fear but with trust in his will for us.  Here again are more reasons for faith and hope, through redemption. (Dedicated to Todd F. #walkby faith)

Finally, we hear an agricultural lesson in seed sowing. Jesus, teaching in parables, explains the “how-to” of sowing a field. This analogy reveals that the seed is the word of God and Jesus is the sower. He “sows” abundantly by his teaching and example. He desires the entire field to be covered in seed, knowing it will eventually grow, and counting on a crop ready for harvest will aid in growing in the kingdom of God.

We are the soil of this field. Our receptivity depends on the granules of our heart. Am I like fertile soil, ready to do God’s will with love, trust and mercy? Am I like dry dirt, parched with bitterness or anger? Am I like specks of dust blown away by the breeze of the world? Am I in need of rehydration through reconciliation to clear the clutter in order to receive the seed? Am I becoming a sower of the word of God, a disciple of Christ, who, like the apostles, share the word of God, continue to care for the field, cultivate good fruit and build the kingdom? All it takes is one seed the size of a mustard seed to yield a life-giving field glistening with grace. For this, we receive his word for the redemption of our lives and become a sower of hope, taking courage that the kingdom indeed will grow!

Dow is the Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.