Monday, January 30, 2012

First Fruits

At our Bible study group, I learned a little more about giving.  Growing up in church, I always knew we should give money in the collection being passed around.  As I became older, I learned of tithing ten percent of your income.  I also learned to volunteer (tithing time and talent) to help your church function in all sorts of areas.  I have worked in the nursery, music, Vacation Bible School, youth group, dinners, Eucharist, retreats, and coffee.  The Bible passages we read opened my eyes to another collection I need to add to my routine.
A little side note in case I have never mentioned this before and in case it is unknown.  The Catholic Bible is different than the Standard Bible.  The Catholic Bible has a few more books in the Old Testament.  The reading I am using comes from two such books.  The first reading comes from Tobit 1:6.  “I, for my part, would often make the pilgrimage alone to Jerusalem for the festivals, as is prescribed for all Israel by perpetual decree.  Bringing with me the first fruits of the field and the firstlings of the flock, together with a tenth of my income and the first shearing’s of the sheep.  I would hasten to Jerusalem….”  The next verse comes from 1 Maccabess 3:49.  “They brought with them the priestly vestments, the first fruits, and the tithes;….”  As we discussed these verses, one of the ladies talked about her daughter volunteering at Food Share.  First fruits and Food Share all clicked into place like the last piece of a puzzle.
I have never given of my first fruits.  Every year, I have cultivated flowers and many years I cultivate vegetables and herbs.  I never give these.  Now in the summer and fall, I want to take some of my vegetables, fruit, and herbs to the Food Share pantry.  I need to make my garden bigger!  I won’t be able to take much because my crops are not all that big, but if everyone where to give a little, Food Share wouldn’t run out of the healthy items so quickly during the growing season.
Flowers, what can I do with flowers?  I want to take them to the Big Sky Care Center.  Now, in all reality, I don’t pick my flowers.  I love to see them in the gardens as I walk up my driveway from getting the mail and along the sidewalk coming to and from my outings.  However, this past fall I started working on a new flower project.  I am adding a strip of garden down the other side of my driveway; plus, I am going to work on a secret garden on the south side of our garage.  In a couple of years, this should yield flowers that I can share with others.
Finally, sitting at Mass, I loved the message Father shared with us.  We need to do more than just attend church on Sundays.  We need to work on our faith throughout the week as well.  Many of us do that and some people are working so hard to make ends meet or have huge family responsibilities that they find it hard to volunteer and give more of time, treasure, and talent.  Yet, I started thinking of first fruits in another area.  When I go to church, I am filled with God’s love through the Eucharist and my fellow Catholics/Christians.  The love that flows from handshakes and hugs gives me strength beyond understanding because all those gestures come from God Himself through us.  These can be considered “fruits” of love.
We need to share these fruits of love we receive at church to the rest of the world.  One of my adopted kids shared with me a story about a lady having a birthday party at the place my adopted daughter works at.  The lady was very rude and unforgiving about a couple of mix-ups that happened on Saturday.  Ironically, they ran into each other at Mass yesterday.  Neither knew the other until that moment.  A bit awkward to say the least!  We all have bad days and should forgive.  However, the older woman should have used her first fruits in the situation for the glory of Christ.  I challenge you all to use your first fruits of love this coming week!
Blessing to you all.

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