Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55.10 – 11
In Lent, we are especially invited to transform the Word seeded in us into something fertile and fruitful. This requires an ongoing, deepening consent. A yes to participate in receiving the Word and doing something with it. This relates to the opportunity we have to discern how we receive incoming impressions. A full stomach of food. A full mind of worry. A full heart of fear. These dynamics tend to fog the window of our perception and reception of wisdom.
And thus, fasting from food, fasting from negative thoughts and emotions, and fasting from unfruitful patterns of behavior with our body, helps us receive incoming impressions from scripture in a more clear, nuanced and enriching way. If the Word of God is not bearing fruit in you, perhaps it’s an invitation to notice what might be blocking it from getting into you in deeper ways. Common blocks are laziness of attention. Gluttony of the body. And an overly critical mind – that is to say, the paralysis of analysis.
On the other hand, it’s also true that the Word comes to transform us into a spiritual fertility and flourishing – no matter what! Nothing ultimately can hinder the energy of life infused in and through the Word at work in world(s) of divine creation. That is to say, the Word WILL bear very good fruit in us, despite ourselves, such as the fruit of the Spirit (e.g. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc.).
Please remember that the Word isn’t always just scripture. The Word can be silence. The Word can be nature. The Word can be a conversation. An experience. An encounter of mercy or an act of charity to another in need. The Word comes to us in humble and grand diversity, wearing the disguise of the ordinary moments of our lives. Receive this moment, and flourish.
Lastly, the Word comes to us in its full-emptiness in the Eucharist. And in the Eucharist we discover the Mystery of Christ, which is the ultimate fertility and flourishing of the Spirit of God in us, birthing in and through our consent to God, an expanding union of the Divine Life with our life.
A helpful resource along these lines is Thomas Merton’s Bread In the Wilderness.
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