5: May ~ Blessing of All Who Work the Land

We share in God’s work through our human labor. Work is not drudgery that our Creator has imposed on us, nor is it a penance for our sinfulness. Work is a gift: human participation in the creative activity of God.

In Church tradition, we have a beautiful partnership of work by the married farm couple, Isidore & Maria. These saints labored with their hands, cared for the land and its creatures, and brought a blessing to the poor of their day and the Church for all time.

All who have a part in helping bring food to the table are a precious treasure in the human community and especially in the Church. Their country lifestyle and the spirituality that flows from it is a witness to Biblical faith.

Work is our communion with God and is also our communion with people, our way of taking responsibility for the well-being of our neighbors, communities and the environment.

 

Opening Prayer

Creator God, you formed the human in your image to be partner with you. You have blessed us by calling us to work with the land and its creatures, providing nourishment and health for all.

Let your word now take root in our hearts and lives, to produce a rich harvest of justice for all creation. Let all who work with the land be blessed with dignity, their homes blessed with health, and their labor blessed with safety. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

 

Song of Praise: Psalm 104:14, 15a, 23, 24, 27-30

Response: How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all.

 

You make grass grow for the cattle

and plants for people to cultivate,

bringing forth food from the earth:

wine that gladdens human hearts,

oil to make their faces shine,

and bread that sustains their hearts.

Response: How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all.

 

People go forth to their work,

to their labor until evening.

How many are your works, Lord!

In wisdom you wrought them all.

Response: How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all.

 

All creatures look to you

to give them their food at the proper time.

When you give it to them, they gather it up;

when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.

Response: How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all.

 

When you hide your face, they are terrified;

when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground.

Response: How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all.

 

Reading: Mark 4:1-20 The Parable of the Sower

Jesus taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

 

Selective Readings from Scripture

Deuteronomy 11:13-15

And if you will indeed obey my commandments — to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul — He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And He will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.

 

Psalm 85:12

Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and the land will yield its increase.

 

Proverbs 12:11

He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.

 

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

 

Zechariah 8:12

For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

 

2 Timothy 2:6

It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

 

James 5:7

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

 

Silent Reflection, or people may share their thoughts.

 

Closing Blessing

(A bowl of olive oil or canola oil is placed in the center of the group.)

God blesses our work, the work of human hands, to make the land fruitful and to provide food for us. Let us ask God to mark our hands and our labors with a blessing this day.

(Invite all to extend their hands over the bowl of oil to be used for the blessing.)

Blessed are you, Lord God, for through your goodness this oil is the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands. By your mighty love, it carries your blessing to us and to all that we do. Let it be a blessing to all who labor with their hands and to all who work with the land.

Blessed be God forever.

(All are invited to bless each other’s hands, tracing the oil on the palms in the shape of a cross.)