Passages: Song of Solomon 4:9-15; Isaiah 7:10-16; Galatians 3:29-4:7; Luke 2:1-7
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
The process of making anything delicious and enjoyable takes time. Last week, our wonderful volunteers came together and prepared delicious meals for this year’s Summer Fest-to-Go. The boregs, choregs, pakhlava, humus and chicken and lamb dinners took time and energy. This is true not just for food. Likewise, building relationships or a family – both physical or spiritual – takes time and effort. Different ingredients, just like different types of people, are mixed, are stirred, are kneaded – but ultimately after some work – a beautiful, enjoyable, coherent body is formed because the process of making anything beautiful and enjoyable takes time.
If you’ve ever tried to make wine for example, the process of fermenting grapes and allowing the wonderful wine to be created takes quite some time. First you need to grow the plant and let the branches stretch outwards. Then those branches need to produce the grapes, which will need time to ripen. Apart from the time that it takes, making wine also requires energy. The grapes are crushed and squeezed, twisted, and stirred – in order for all those great juice to come out.
The old-fashioned way of crushing those grapes was by feet. Stomping on and squeezing the grapes eventually produced the sweet grape juices that would become wine. It was messy, but ultimately, we enjoy the wine. Yes, the process of making anything beautiful and enjoyable takes time.
My dear brothers and sisters, our life, our experiences, our highs and lows, success and failure are all part of the process by which we are formed. This process takes time, effort, and energy. Sometimes during this process, we do not truly see the end product; We do not realize the beauty that will come out of it all, especially when on the surface level all we see are failures, sickness, disagreements and all the negativity that our lives are filled with. Last week, I spoke about what we all have been experiencing the past few months as 2020 has been a messy year, full of negativity. But we also saw that out of all that negativity, God has given us abundant opportunities to bring positive change, to show faith, love and hopefulness in a world that feels crushed and oppressed. Every day is another opportunity because my dears, every day is part of the process of life through which ultimately we are called to produce fruits of love, hope, compassion, care, forgiveness, etc. Those fruits over time, our life, ripen and become deeper. And throughout our lives they are crushed, squeezed, stirred, fermented etc. in order that ultimately, we, our lives, create something beautiful and enjoyable.
Just like dough that is kneaded for bread or grapes for wine are stomped on, we may feel that we are being stomped on and crushed under the feet of an oppressor. We may feel that the challenges or negativity of life are too much to bear. However, my dears the challenges of life are in fact the process by which we are changed, ripened, mixed and strengthened to be able to create that beautiful, coherent and strong body.
Remember who we are? We are the branches of the vine and our vine is Christ Jesus. (John 15:5) Therefore, if we are from Christ – the process of life that we are going through when we remain faithful to God, will produce from us what Christ likewise gave to this world – love, hope, peace, freedom. These fruits are from the Holy Spirit and are what bless this world. Yes, it takes time, energy, and effort; yes, at times it will feel like we are being crushed and squeezed and maybe at times we will feel like some of the things we are going through don’t belong. However, by putting our faith and trust in God, by remaining prayerful, loving, forgiving, and in communion with God – we will become God’s blessing in this world for each other. We will become the light that shines in the darkness; the healing that cures the infirmity and the love that melts the hardened heart.
The process of making anything beautiful takes time. Today, remembering our beloved St. Mary, the Mother of God, we see that she, as the greatest example for all of us trusted and put her hope in God. Even when she did not understand how, she, a virgin would give birth, she trusted in the love and will of God. She became the branch that bore the first fruit, she gave life to Christ Jesus, God in the flesh, who came to save this world.
My dears, on this day we bless grapes and remember St. Mary; let us remember also, that just as the grapes are fruits of the harvest, likewise, our faith, our lives, will produce fruits to be harvested. What kind of fruit will we fill this world with? If we are truly the branches connected to Christ Jesus, if we are truly children of God – then our lives must produce fruits of compassion, love, hope, faith, and healing. Our fruits must be like grapes, a blessing that will become enjoyable for not just us but everyone around us. Therefore, trust God, place hope in Him who sees the beauty behind the process. Know that by remaining faithful to God and trusting His will – this world will only be blessed.
May those blessings fill our lives also, may they bring healing, love, and hope to us. We ask for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she pray for us and gives us the strength, to like her trust in the will of God – in the process that will ultimately produce beautiful fruits. Fruits of love, faith and hope that will bring glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally, Amen!