Monday, July 17, 2017

Snow Theories (Unrelated to Game of Thrones)

Five or six years ago, my friend Fr. Lee Jirovsky, a farm kid from near Seward, Nebraska, shared with me a thought on Isaiah's referencing both the rain and the snow coming down. It really stuck with me and so this weekend I wanted to share with people the ways that image can compel them to take learning their Bible more seriously.

15th Sunday, Year A: The Rain and The Snow

We know the parable of sower well. 

One of the first parables we learn. 

When we think of a parable, it's often what comes to mind. 

Probably for the rich imagery: four soils

And because Jesus explains it. 

So instead, turn to p. 28

1st reading: Isaiah 

Three things to note on the text:

1) All one sentence. 


You could diagram it

One core subject & predicate 

Tons of prepositional phrases

Lots of illustrations and metaphors around one metaphor:

2nd line, 2nd column 

"so shall my word be" 
"like the rain and the snow come down"

2) Focused on the watering 

Gospel > seed

Isaiah > moisture 

Psalm 65 on the opposite page

You have visited the land and watered it [...]
God's watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,
breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers [...]

Nice illustration of the water cycle. 

Learned in 4th grade? 

I didn't know that they knew about it back then. 

Almost makes for a better image. 

Return isn't a given in Isaiah, as it is in the water cycle 

In the metaphor: God gives water...

...returns by making things grow to His glory and for our benefit. 

3) Snow. 

Uncommon in Judea. 

Rare, but can get in the highlands. 

Especially farther north. Golan Heights. 

But rare enough. 

But makes sense to us why Isaiah includes "snow"

We in Nebraska know it's not enough to get rain in the spring and summer. 

The city people and commuters are happy when there's little snow, 

but ask the farmers and they'll tell you. 

Need snow to keep up the groundwater levels, 

to keep the fields wet enough for when planting starts, 

and snow enough up in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming to keep the river levels up. 

Just crossed Platte yesterday for a wedding

Big sand bars visible again

Not like a month ago

<<Close books>>

Before further, let's clarify something:

"The word of God", of course, is God speaking to us. 

Most common and direct way of encountering is Sacred Scripture

Other wisdom of God through his Church: sacraments and teaching

Personal Prayer = the Word speaking quietly within us

And of course Jesus himself is "the Word of God" in the flesh. 

But I think naturally the primary way we hear "word of God" here is in reference to the words of the sacred biblical texts. 

Back to our metaphor

Isaiah: the word of God is like the rain AND the snow 

Rain comes down = water now

Snow builds up = water for the future 

I need the word of God to hit me now...

And I need the word of God to store up and stay with me for later. 

We need to build up our water supply...

...Our water supply of the word of God 

Keep the soil soft and supple. 

Build up reserves of word of God that we'll need in the months to come. 

This is why don't pray only when in need. 

Or at least we shouldn't. 

Why we say "now and at hour of our death". 

Don't go to church only when feel like it. 

Shouldn't read the bible only when I get the urge. 
Or in desperation 

Things like: 
Daily prayer, 
weekly Mass, 
regular reading of the bible, up our reserves. 

When you hear a little old Protestant lady quote some line of scripture when something bad happens, she didn't pull that out of the air. 

She probably learned it in Sunday school and has called it to mind or meditated on regularly for the last 60 years. 

We might joke about Catholic lack of scripture knowledge. 

But that means we are cheating ourselves of our snowpack. 

By not reading, soaking, meditating on it:

We are counting on daily rain alone to get us through. 

That little old lady, 
who quotes a psalm when she's rejoicing, 
and quotes St. Paul when she's in distress, 

She has a mountain glacier of the word of God stored up in her heart

She is not going to go thirsty. 

So should we be too: 

Daily prayer: letting the word speak, soaking it in 

Weekly Mass, or even occasional daily Mass,

Regular reading of the bible, on our own, seeing the whole story


So that we have the reserves, the snowpack, that slowly melts and waters the fields of our hearts. 

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