Catholic Action

A Time of Harvest

The air is crisp.  The leaves are turning bright colors of red, orange and yellow.  Fall is in full bloom.  For many of us, this colorful season is a time of gathering, a time of harvest.  We pick the apples off the trees in the orchard.  We gather the fallen leaves on the ground.  We commune around the table for festive family celebrations.  It is a natural time to reap the blessings of seeds we have sown.  It is a time to store up and prepare for the winter to come.

But is this time of harvest just meant for ourselves and our loved ones?  Or does it have a deeper, communal meaning?  The theme of the harvest is found throughout the Bible.  In the first five books of the Bible, God creates the world and the creatures that dwell in it.  As humans begin to settle on the land, God gives them a guidebook on how to live together in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Throughout this guidebook, it is more than evident that God desires His creation to treat each other with loving kindness.  In fact, it is clear in the laws of the Old Testament that God expects His people to act with justice and mercy towards one another.

Within these laws promoting justice and mercy, the harvest is specifically mentioned.  During the time of harvest, God tells His people, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 9:9-10)  Why does God include this?  He is making sure that all people are provided for, especially those that are not able to provide for themselves.  When reaping the harvest, God tells his children not to think only of themselves, but of their neighbors in need.  Living in loving-kindness within a community means taking care of one another.

In this season when we celebrate the harvest, when we gather together with our families around the table, let us remember that God tells us not to reap to the very edge of our fields without concern for others.  He tells us to look out into our communities and to provide for the poor, for the stranger.  Perhaps there is a family in your neighborhood that could use a nice, hot meal.  Do you know of a food bank or soup kitchen that would benefit greatly from your donation of food or time?  Maybe there is room at your Thanksgiving table to invite someone that would love the company of a family.  As you begin to harvest your blessings this fall, think about how you can share them with someone else.