Many of the rules or laws in Leviticus seem rather strange to us today. There are rules about not mixing different types of fibers in clothing, for example. Yet today we have clothing not only made of mixed fibers but no fibers at all. Some of the laws don't seem to apply to everyone, only to specific people. One such is "When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God" (Lev 19:23-25).
People who grow fruit trees know that the first several years the tree either produces no fruit or the fruit is small and not tasty. It takes several years for a fruit tree to mature and produce good fruit. So we could see in this law generally good advice about fruit trees. But the other lesson is about who to thank for those fruit trees and their produce. In the first year that the fruit matures the entire crop should be given to God in praise and thanks. The tree has grown; the soil has been fertile; the rainfall and sunshine plentiful; no locusts or birds have eaten the fruit. So in this first good year of harvest, the firstfruits all belong to God (Proverbs 3:9).
We all have first fruits of one kind or another. We earn a college degree and go out for our first year of work in our chosen field. We enter an apprenticeship program, become a journeyman and then a master. We start a new venture and have our first year when we turn a profit.
There's a temptation for many of us, I think, to consider this thanks offering as a tax instead. It is not necessarily freely and gratefully given. But a praise offering needs to be given with thanksgiving in our hearts.
For Reflection: Has there been a time in my life when I did not give all the firstfruits of my labor to God? If so, how can I make up for it? Have I continued to give God thanks through the days and the years for all He has given me?
Let us pray. Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. How priceless is your unfailing love (Psalm 36: 5-6, 7).
"Homemade Rice Bowl" By ParentingPatch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.