Monday within the Octave of Whitsunday
Scripture: Isaiah 32:14-20 (NKJV)
14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks—
15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
17 The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
19 though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.
20 Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
The festival being celebrated in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost was a harvest festival. It was a celebration of the arrival of the firstfruits, the earliest-ripening produce of the growing season. God commanded Israel to observe this festival annually (Ex. 23). He directed them to bring a portion of this early harvest to the Lord’s House in remembrance of His deliverance of His people out of bondage in Egypt into this fruitful land, a “land flowing with milk and honey” (Deut. 26). Through the fruitfulness of the land, God led His people in a demonstration of their own fruitfulness: the good works of love for God and neighbor that flow out of a faithful heart.
In today’s reading the prophet Isaiah likewise uses the fruitfulness of the land as a symbol for the fruitfulness of God’s people fulfilled in Christ. As the ministers of God proclaim His Word and administer His Sacraments, the Holy Spirit is poured out to cause the seed of the Gospel to germinate in the soil of a barren heart. This will sprout up into a vibrant faith, become firmly rooted in Jesus, drink deeply of the living water of Holy Baptism, be nourished by Christ’s Holy Food, and bear the fruit of righteousness. As the Spirit works through the means of grace upon all the members of a congregation, the increasingly-fruitful field with each faithful heart grows into a fruitful grove, abounding in the fruit of the Spirit: justice, righteousness, peace, quietness and assurance of God’s deliverance into the everlasting peaceful habitation.
We pray: Pour out Your Spirit upon us, O Most High, that in this wilderness of sin Your Church becomes a fruitful field, bearing a final harvest of a hundredfold of souls; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.