The agricultural setting of the harvest feast in the reading from Deuteronomy reminds me of the hay harvest barn dance and food fest my grandparents put on very year in mid August. Everyone was invited. It was a great time and long remembered. By late August in northern Wisconsin the weather was already filled with Fall, and winter coming. To me, it has become somewhat romanticized, in a way that I can imagine the ancient Israelites remembered the day before city life when their culture was nomadic and agricultural. Life seemed simpler and more direct, uncomplicated. Even the simple relationship with God portrayed in this scene got complicated by centuries of traditions and add-ons. Even today, we sometimes find ourselves yearning for such a world. Yet, we still can have the bringing of gifts, a sharing with the stranger and alien, a rejoicing with a feast, and most importantly the presence of God directly in our lives. What gets in the way? Our calloused hearts and fisted hands. What can we also do: ensure the real “catholicity” in our parishes by our hospitality to the strangers and the alien. A typical Sunday Mass should look like a cross section of the world.

Everyone wants this happiness: security, peace, prosperity, children. And God promises these things, just not in the monetized way that we think as Americans. The happiness comes in this scene because of the sharing and the thanksgiving.

The Psalm 91 prayer continues this same theme of trust in God and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Vs. 10-11 have comforting lines about our Guardian Angels. “For to His angels he has given command about you.”

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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