Image: Lac Ste. Anne
As we gather today to celebrate our Mass for the Lac Ste. Anne Virtual Pilgrimage, we hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah calling out to us. Jeremiah tells us that God is calling us back. God is inviting us to return to Him so that we will use our lives in a good way and will not waste the time that we have been given.
The loincloth that Jeremiah speaks about in the reading was a very personal piece of clothing and was made of linen, a natural material that comes from the fibres of a flax plant. We do not have flax growing in the north but we do have other natural materials like leather and fur that makes beautiful, comfortable, and functional clothing. Think of a nice soft pair of moose hide slippers with some rabbit fur snuggling your bare feet and you will know the image that Jeremiah was trying to get across.
With this image the prophet Jeremiah reminds the people that it was God who created them and brought them into being. In the Psalms we read that, like a fine garment, God knit us together, in our mother’s womb and we are wonderfully made. God did this, Jeremiah says, so that we would cling to God so that there would always be an intimate connection between us. Unfortunately, that was not what was happening. The people had strayed from God. They had stopped thinking about God and spent their time chasing after false gods.
So, God said to Jeremiah, “take that garment and put it under a rock, let it sit out in the damp and rain, let it bake in the sun and show the people what happens to it”.
The thing about natural materials is that they must be cared for. They need to stay dry and clean or soon they will begin to breakdown and disintegrate and will not be good for anything. Leather will crack and fur will fall apart if it does not get the proper attention it deserves. When Jeremiah recovered the garment, it was ruined and all the work that had gone into it and all the money spent on it was wasted.
Jeremiah was trying to paint a picture of what happens to us if we do not spend our time close to God. If we do not take the time to pray or we spend to much time doing things that are not of God, we will become like that garment left under a rock. God made us and we belong to Him but if we do not stay close to God our lives will begin to fall apart and we will fall further and further away from the life that God wants for us.
Lucky for us we are not a loincloth or a pair of slippers that once ruined must be thrown away. For us there is always chance to be renewed, and to reconnect with our creator.
In our Gospel passage Jesus shares with us a very brief but meaningful parable about what life can look like if we stay close to him. He talks about a tiny little mustard seed that, while being the smallest of seeds, grows into a large bush that will provide shelter and shade. Each one of us is born with that little seed of potential within ourselves. If we allow ourselves to be nourished by God’s word and we stay close to Jesus, the one who shows us the Way, the Truth and the Life, then that gift from God will grow in us and it will bring goodness to our life and will also bring goodness to those around us.
Each year the pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne gives us a wonderful opportunity for renewing ourselves in God’s love, for seeking healing and reconciliation and allowing that seed of God’s love to grow in us. It is unfortunate that this year we cannot gather in person but that does not mean that God’s Grace is not available to us. Simply ask the Lord to be with you. Ask God to bless and protect your family and to let his Grace fall upon like water on a garden. Let God’s love grow in you so it becomes like a mighty tree in which all the people in your life will find shelter and know God’s love.