“A farmer plowed his field. He disliked the field. He fertilised the field. He planted the field to corn. Then he moved on to other tasks as he waited for the harvest.
Unknown to the farmer, however, the seed corn had been exposed to radiation. The germ of life was dead within it. The seed rotted in the ground.
When it became evident that there would be no harvest, the farmer’s disappointment was bitter. ‘All that work gone for nothing,’ he grieved; ‘all for nothing!’
The wasted labour of the farmer in this little parable is pitiable enough. Yet, it is only a dim figure of the squandered efforts of the person who lives his life, or any part of it, cut off from God by grievous sin.
ONE OF THE GREAT TRAGEDIES OF LIFE
‘Without Me you can do nothing,’ Jesus has said. His meaning is plain. Unless we are united with Jesus in faith and in love, nothing that we do has any significance as far as God is concerned. A day which is spent apart from God might as well have been given to sleep.
Even the ‘good’ actions which we do at such a time go unrecorded by God. We may give alms, we may help a neighbour, we may even say a prayer (unless it be a prayer of repentant love) and not one bit of it counts for eternity. It cannot count, because the line of communication between God and man, which is love, has been severed.
This is one of the great tragedies of life – that so many people should be living respectable lives, yet be sowing their field with dead seed from which there can be no harvest. These are the persons whose virtue remains on the natural level. They are honest and truthful and chaste and neighbourly, not to please God but to please themselves. They feel that they owe it to themselves as human beings to be decent and upright persons.
They are right, up to that point. But they do not go the one step further and see their goodness as something which they owe to God even more than to themselves.
Their natural virtue does have a value. It keeps their spiritual faculties from becoming completely atrophied and makes more hopeful their eventual acceptance of God’s grace. Until then, however, their virtue is of this world only.
THE VITAL STEP
By baptism we have been elevated to a supernatural level of being. We are sharers in God’s own life. We no longer have the right to do anything, however noble, solely for own satisfaction or solely for humanitarian motives. All that we do, even such a homely act as blowing our nose, must be done in union with Christ, must be His activity as well as our own.
This is what it means to live a supernatural life – to be united with Jesus by grace, and in Him and with Him to live for God. Under these circumstances our commonest deeds, such as washing a diaper or washing the car, have an eternal value. They add to our merit in heaven and win new grace for us here and now.
‘ALL FOR YOU, GOD!’
It is not humanely possible, of course, to make a specific offering to God of each individual bit of activity. However, such moment-to-moment dedications of self are not necessary. It is enough that we have the habitual intention to direct all that we do to God.
The intention does need renewal, of course, if it is to be vivid and strong. This is why we begin our day with an offering of the day to God. The words do not matter but the meaning is, “All that I do, say, think and suffer today, I want to do, say, think and suffer for You, my God.’ It will help to keep our day more sharply in focus if, at one or the other time during the day, we can pause long enough to repeat, ‘All for You, God!’
Whether we like it or not, we have to live, work, recreate, eat, drink, sleep and suffer. It would be the most woeful waste to do all this and have it count for nothing in the end. It need not to be so if we make sure that it is living seed which we are planting.”
- Fr Leo J. Trese