Do I Bear Fruit? Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020


At several periods in my Jesuit life, I have tended to an outside garden. There are times where it’s acted as a stress-relieving pastime, others as a way of contributing to the life of the community. Or both! I can still return to our beautiful Jesuit land in Guelph, ON and see the maple and pine trees that I planted way back in the 1990s.

It’s certainly a good hobby that has taught me so much and helps me to comprehend what Jesus is so often saying in his parables. Plenty of spiritual truths are revealed in tending to a garden. I tended to prefer perennials to annuals.

I used to grow a variety of herbs, mainly for the community kitchen, but also for the simple enjoyment of the aromas that would be released when I rubbed the herb between my fingers. Basil and rosemary were my favourites. I remain envious when I pass by someone who has his or her uncovered hands in rich soil.

On the day I am writing, I have walked by Brother Paul Baker, S.J., several times. He and others are contributing to the beauty of our property in Pickering, building on the labour and legacy of the late Fr. Chris Rupert, S.J. It’s good for us to cooperate with God in maintaining the beauty of the earth.

Today’s scripture readings from the Hebrew scriptures and Jesus’ teachings reveal once again how often we get images from the created world. Isaiah offers us the comparison of the life coming forth from the earth to the effects of the word of God.

Psalm 65 speaks of the fruit that springs forth from the earth. You crown the year with your bounty. … The pastures of the wilderness overflow. Paul reminds us in Romans of the ways in which created existence groans in labour, creation waiting with eager longing. Then there is the Gospel parable of the sower and the seed.

Jesus’ parable offers us plenty of spiritual truths. He provides an explanation of the parable, but we must apply that to ourselves and the inner terrain of our hearts. If you are like me, you can read that parable this week and realize something about your own life.

And then, a month later, the parable challenges me in an entirely new way. That’s an important element of the parables, and any good story. We recognize ourselves and see how we are being challenged.

The point of what Jesus is saying is, But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

Each of us comprehends important things from our hearing of the Word of God. Will it make a difference in our life? Will the Word we hear be similar to what we hear from Isaiah? It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Peggy Spencer
    Posted at 04:40h, 12 July Reply

    Again, another beautiful and meaningful article. It certainly lifted my spirit in these times of collective despair (for those who allow themselves to) and again to keep nurturing that constant hope of new beginnings. The media is just so full, in many reports, of gloom and doom. If only they could offer news of hope occasionally……

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 05:56h, 12 July Reply

    Sometimes I look at the challenges of daily life as the manure and peat moss necessary for enrichment of the soil of my soul.

    Fr. Chris Rupert was the first person who taught me something about centering prayer. Ah but he showed me so much more about gardening.

    I thank God for the messages received through gardening.

  • Peter Bisson SJ
    Posted at 07:28h, 12 July Reply

    Thank you Philip!

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