Planting a garden may seem to be a very simple matter but, depending on where you are working, it can be well nigh impossible! There are many factors that need to be considered including the depth and type of soil, the prevalence of birds who may eat the seeds and the availability of the right amounts of water and sun. When all of the conditions are there in the right abundance then the job can be relatively simply. If one or more is lacking or in over supply, then there is likely to be any number of difficulties that could easily result in failure.

Sometimes as a priest I have wondered at the difficulty of realty training young people to be disciples of Jesus. I have come to the conclusion that it is like trying to plant a garden, however, a little more difficult as it is also dependent upon the decisions of others ad not only your own commitment. As mentioned above, it only takes a problem with one aspect of the process to send the whole project awry.

This can be extremely frustrating and lead to despair if one takes it too seriously. I am not in control of the decisions of others. I have to learn to be detached from them to the degree that they are free to make their own decision to follow Christ. This can be a heartbreaking process, but it is the only way. Jesus experienced the whole range of responses in His disciples from faithfulness to betrayal! We cannot expect that we will be preserved from these experiences.

What gives us the strength to carry on? Have you ever beheld the vista of a beautiful garden in full bloom with swathes of color everywhere and the sun shining upon the birds and the insects as they feed on the nectars and pollens available to them? Well, that is what it is like to see young people grow into young disciples of Jesus and begin to work with other young people themselves. The heartbreak and struggle is worth it because the harvest, when it comes in Jesus, is always abundant.

How committed am I to walking with young people and forming them in the way of the Gospel? If I do not feel called to this as such, how can I help others bring in the harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God?

Father, you are the heavenly vinedresser. You are the ultimate gardener! Strengthen and equip me with the necessary gifts to form people as your disciples.