Kathy Bernard- Publisher

The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.
The weeds are the sons of the evil one. 
Matt: 13:3-8



One day Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him:  'A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it.  Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture.  Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!' When He had said this, He called out, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”  Luke 8: 4-8

This parable brought to mind something that recently happened to me.  A few years ago, a dear friend gave me a thriving seedling from a small pepper bush that grew in her beautiful garden.  I call it a tree although it may be only two feet when it is full grown. She had cared for it carefully and when the leaves began to sprout and peppers started to show, she put a ribbon around the pot and gave it to me. She knew how much I loved spicy red peppers on food so she wanted me to have one of my own.  As she handed it to me, she gave me a long look and said, “Plant it and make sure to water and nourish it each day until it starts to thrive and grow larger, and make sure the soil stays moist”. 

I virtuously put it in the ground and followed her strict instructions to the letter for a few weeks, watching it spread out and become loaded with delicious hot peppers that turned from the initial green to blazing red and occasional black ones.  What a beautiful sight and a treat to the tongue even through the burning, stinging taste of the pepper seeds.  Although I have no talent for gardening, I tried to maintain this project for I was always reminded by my friend who inevitably asked each time I saw her,  “How is the pepper bush coming along?  Then, on coming home, I would guiltily rush outside and water it, pulling out the stray grass that had taken root around it.

As time moved on, I began to get forgetful and lazy about the watering.  My priorities shifted to the business of other things and soon I forgot all about that dependent plant.  When I remembered, I would just throw an initial cup or two of water on it, paying no attention to the weeds that had started to crowd the young plant and choke it.  In time it began to turn brown and unkempt, losing its vital look.  The peppers began to fall to the ground unnoticed without a care or a thought from me.

Several years went by, and gradually I forgot the plant completely.  Other things had taken root in my life and the plant no longer held my attention.   I did not remember to water or take care of it.   It was dependent on the rain and the moisture from the dew in the early morning.

Then the unthinkable happened.  I found out my dear friend, in the prime of life and who lovingly gave me that bush, was dying of cancer.  Suddenly everything she had given me in love and friendship became priceless because I knew I would never be able to receive or give these precious tokens of deep friendship ever again.  The things she had touched in my life and in me had a value no one could ever replace.

Belatedly, I began in earnest to water the dead brown stick still standing forlornly in the ground, a reminder of my neglect.  I began to water that dried up twig twice daily, pinning my hopes on it and willing it to come back to life.   I said a silent prayer over it for it was a symbol of the true friendship she gave to me.  I pleaded with God to bring it to life. It was just a plant but it represented so much more.

Soon after my strong administrations to the plant increased, my friend’s cancer accelerated, becoming more and more aggressive. Two months after she had been diagnosed she was gone from my life.  I was bereft and left with only my memories of the good times we shared, of the love and caring she always extended to me.  I realized then that she was the very best friend I ever had in my entire life for she was truly my soul mate, my backup, the one I could turn to and share all things.  God had given me a gift of true friendship but I took its value as never ending.

But I continued to water the dead branch with a sad vengeance.  I added soil, plant food, love, and patience to the mix, but it did not thrive.  Just as I was ready to give up and pull out this dried up, dead reminder that was once a small healthy bush and reluctantly toss it away, something made me look around to the sides, and much to my great surprise and joy, was a new pepper bush!   Sprung from the seeds of the original tree my friend had given to me!  It lived on!  There it grew in all its glory, so small that I had overlooked it, especially since my main concentration had been on the dead bush.  It was growing!    There were the familiar green peppers turning into full-grown beautiful red peppers! 

I had not noticed that the seeds from the old bush had fallen to the ground and that those seeds had begun a new life because of the water and the care I had given the dying bush next to it.  It was there all the time drinking of the water I had, in despair, put on the dead bush.  I hung my head in gratitude, then looking to the heavens I said, “God, You are something else.  Thank you for this special gift.   I do not deserve it.” 

Now this is more than just a story about a pepper bush.  It is the story of the faith seed that is planted in all of us.  It needs our constant attention in order to grow and spread to its fullest.  It needs to be watered and cultivated by the Sacraments, it needs to be fertilized by constant prayer celebrated with other Christians in the Church.  It needs faithfulness and supreme trust in our Savior in order to survive and grow strong.    It needs the sustenance of certitude in our Lord’s promises and it needs to be fortified by reading the bible.  And it needs to be constantly nourished by a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.

One tiny faith seed that is planted can grow into a full blown commitment to the Lord, and that faith will sprout seeds that can spread all over this earth, flowering into full grown believers who will send more seed into the world.  But, without constant care and nutrients, it will shrivel up and die.

There will be times when you will stumble and forget who you are as a Christian, times when you are weakened like that pepper tree by the neglect of this world.  There will be times when your sins will become like weeds that will choke the trust from you and leave you feeling abandoned.  But God, unlike us, does not start anything and leave it to perish. He will not forget to provide you with His living water.  He will replenish you for He is the fountain of living water.  All who drink from His fountain will never thirst and He tells us this in John 7:38“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from the heart of anyone who believes in me.

Are you growing in your faith?  Have you forgotten to give it the care it deserves? Time will pass on, but through your loving attention, the seeds of your faith and promise will continue to grow, scattering more seeds of salvation throughout your lifetime and to those who come after you.  You can become a tree of hope.

Cultivate your faith with unwavering attention.  Do not let the seed of salvation fall to the ground to wither and die.  Maintain and watch it grow and give life to others.  This is what Jesus commanded us to do.  Sow the joy that He gives.  Encourage and let others know about God’s promises.  Let your pepper tree of faith propagate salvation wherever it may fall.  Do not let it die on your watch.   Let it produce a crop of great magnitude to glorify and worship the Lord.  

My friend has gone to her eternal home but her legacy of the pepper bush is still with me, holding a deeper and unique meaning that extends beyond a beautiful and edible pepper.   It is a living reminder of something bigger, beyond the scope of human understanding, for it is a symbol that starts from its roots and blossoms into a full and complete knowledge of an eternity with God.  Nurture it and allow it to take root and grow through constant faith, trust, worship and prayer. 

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls
to the ground and dies, it remains only a single
seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 
– John 12:24

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