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Sowing for an eternal harvest

Sowing for an eternal harvest
Lord, give our bodies restful sleep
And let the work we have done today
Be sown for an eternal harvest.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord,

The concluding prayer for Monday’s Night Prayer (above)  is by far the shortest of the concluding prayers for compline.  Last Monday, however, it wasn’t its brevity that made me wonder.  I found myself reflecting instead on the ‘work we have done today’ and considering how much of it will ‘be sown for an eternal harvest’.  Will the dishes I have done stand me in good stead in heaven?  The cooking?  Cleaning the kitchen floor?  What of the nappies I’ve changed: will they count?

St Peter’s not going to be interested in whether or not I’ve done the ironing (which is lucky), but rather in the acts of the three things that remain: faith, hope and love… and the greatest of these is love.  Consider St Catherine of Siena for a moment.  She  had found her niche in the contemplative life and was happy to stop there, but God had other plans for her, calling her to a more active love of him.  She was reluctant – thinking her life of contemplative prayer to be the ‘end’, rather than the ‘means’ – but was obedient to the ‘tender will of God’ and continued her life of contemplative prayer in a phenomenally active way.  Rather than living life of active ministry punctuated with prayer, her whole life was centred on divine contemplation and her active ministry flowed from it.  She had given herself so completely to God that there was no real boundary between her individual will and His.  There was no apparent boundary either, between her love of God and love of neighbour; the one flowed into the other.

Each time we think, speak or act out of love for God or neighbour, then, we sow an eternal seed.  When we use the widow’s mite of patience, compassion and forgiveness towards those with whom we live or work, when we bite our tongues out of charity or speak out against injustice, we sow an eternal seed.  When we help those in need – no matter how small that help is – we are showing the love and compassion of Christ, and that is work that will be ‘sown for an eternal harvest’.

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