Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
The Man Who Planted Trees is a modern parable by the French author Jean Giono. It tells the story of one shepherd’s effort to re-forest a treeless and abandoned valley in the foothills of the Alps. He spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day. He continues to plant trees for forty years until the miserable valley turns into a beautiful and lush valley filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable comparing the Kingdom of God to a man who scatters seed on the land hoping the seed will sprout and grow. Let us pause for a moment so as to reflect on the kind of “seed” or “tree” you would like to plant in your life. How can we help to restore the Kingdom of God by letting it sprout and grow through our lives?
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.