And the Word Was Made Grass

Lenten Reflections 2015: Readings from Augustine

“Man’s days are as grass” (Ps 102[103]:15). Let a man note what he is, let him not be proud: “Man’s days are like grass.” Why is grass proud that flourishes now but in a little while dries up? How is grass proud that is green for a while, for a little while, until the sun grows hot? It is good for us, then, that his mercy be upon us and make gold from grass. For “man’s days are like the grass of the field,” that’s how it will flourish. All of the splendor of the human race–honors, power, wealth, vanity, money–is the flower of the grass. This house is flourishing, and that big house is flourishing, that family is flourishing; but how many are flourishing and how many years are they living? They’re many years to you, but a short while for God. God doesn’t count the way you count. By comparison to the long and long-lived ages, all the flowers of any house are as the flower of the field. ... “All flesh is grass, and all its glory is as the flower of the field. The grass has withered and the flower fallen, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (Is 40:7-8). The Father knew how we were made, that we are grass and can flourish only for a while, and so he sent us his Word and that Word which remains forever he made a brother to the grass that does not remain forever; he made the only-begotten one, the only one born of his substance a brother to so many adopted brothers and sisters. Don’t wonder that you will share in his eternity: he first became a sharer in your grass. ...

“For the wind will pass over him, and he shall not be, and he shall know his place no more” (v. 16). It’s like a loss, like ruin. Those who inflate themselves, those who puff themselves up, those who extol themselves: “The wind will pass over him, and he will not be, and he will no longer know his place.” See them dying every day: that will be all, that will be the end. But he is not talking simply to grass, but to the grass for whose sake the Word was made grass. You’re a human being, and it was for your sake that the Word became a human being; you are flesh, and for your sake the Word became flesh. “All flesh is grass” and the Word became flesh. How great must the hope of grass be if the Word became flesh. The Word that remains forever did not disdain to take grass to himself so that grass would not despair of itself (EnPs 102[103], 22-23; PL 27, 1333)

My heart was struck and dried up like the grass. But the grass will grow green again when watered by the blood of the Savior. (EnPs 101[102], 12; PL 37, 1302)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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