Yesterday, we had our first taste of corn on the cob for the season of 2020. This morning it occurred to me as I read the gospel for today’s liturgical services (MT 13: 1-23 or 13: 1-9) that I had been deprived of one of my favorite Scriptural images and on-going meditations this year since the farmers along NY Route 81 had plowed and planted their fields of corn early on, before the pandemic took hold. I often travel that route and wait each spring and early summer for the miracle. First there is just a tinge of green throughout the rows of soil. Then tiny shoots appear and a week later, should I be passing by again, the soil has been overtaken by the planted corn. From then on everything speeds up and within weeks—by the 4th of July—the exponential growth is clear and we begin to look for the vegetable stands along the way.
I always say that corn is my favorite miracle because once the planting is complete it seems as if the effort is over and all that’s left is to wait. The waiting, I imagine, is the most difficult for farmers who have no control over the weather or diseases of the crops. And their livelihood depends on the corn for the feeding of the cattle—or the hungry New Yorkers, as the case may be. But the farmers are certainly busy throughout these months. It is the time of the invisible work for the passersby. We can’t see them checking the weather or inspecting the ears or watering thirsty fields or loving the earth and the relationships that exist between grower and the growing.
I feel as if the longer version of the gospel selection is the one we ought to reflect upon today, where Jesus is asked why he speaks in parables and answers that the people look but do not see, hear but do not understand…Gross is the heart of this people...It brings to mind the news story yesterday of a young woman who went to a party recently, (no masks required), contracted the coronavirus and, on her deathbed said, “I thought it was a hoax…but it wasn’t.” How long will we—as a nation—persist in our willfulness, hearing but not understanding, doing as we please, refusing to remember that we are endangering others when we ignore the rules?
May we listen in this growing season with our inner ears, hear with our hearts and pay attention to what we cannot see in order that we will live to see another spring.