Some Sow; Others Reap

By Chris Sparks

I was in a conversation about evangelization recently, and partway through had a revelation: I’ve been a sower for a while, and I was talking to a bunch of reapers.

In other words, I shower with my words Marian Helpers and whomever else you all give Marian Press’ output, and pray that God makes good fruit grow. But I don’t often get to reap the fruits of that labor. I don’t usually get to see the conversions, or be present for the baptisms if (Lord willing) there are any helped along by my writings.

Other people are primarily reapers. Other people are street evangelists, or the pastors of parishes, or missionaries. They certainly are also sowing the Word of God, but they also receive people into the Church, gathering in the harvest in a more active, direct way.

There’s room for both in Scripture, and in the life of the Church (see Mt 13; Jn 4:37). But the methods of each can be very different, as can our approach to evangelization. Often, sowers are spreading the seeds of the Word of God abroad in the world, showering the seeds on the good ground and the bad alike. Sowers spread a wide net, and draw in whatever it catches. Reapers, on the other hand, are the fly fishermen of evangelization. They’re going to the best fishing spots with carefully selected bait at a particular time of day.

We all take our places in one or the other camp. Some of us live as best we can according to Christian virtue, praying for the conversion of poor sinners, and don’t see in this lifetime the fruits of our labors. Some of us are blessed to be there for the Baptisms, to bear witness to the transformations, to see when the truth penetrates the mind and heart of someone who’d previously been non-believing.

Both are valuable. Both are part of the life of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Both are necessary.

Saint Faustina got to do a little bit of both in her lifetime. She sowed a lot, writing down her mystical visions and private revelations in her Diary, transmitting to her spiritual directors and confessors the Divine Mercy message and devotion, and lived a self-sacrificing life according to her vocation, all for the salvation of souls. And occasionally, she got to reap what she sowed. She was visited by the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and got to see some of those who had made the final trip to Heaven. She offered up some intense sufferings for the conversion of sinners, including some of the wards of her congregation and her own sister.

She got the beginnings of a glimpse of the immense fruit that all her sowing would yield, and more — some prophetic revelations that opened the window onto a greater part of what was to come.

Know that if you neglect the matter of the painting of the image and the whole work of mercy, you will have to answer for a multitude of souls on the day of judgment (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 154).

No matter whether God calls us to sow or to reap, let us be faithful to prayer, the Sacraments, works of mercy, and reading the Scriptures. Let us tend to our own souls, knowing that by so doing, we are making ourselves more likely to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Let us aim for greater docility to the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to abide in our hearts.

Pray for me, that I may practice what I preach. I’ll pray for you.

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.

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Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

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