Thursday, July 17, 2014

Whoever has ears, let them hear! The parable of the sower and the seed.

OT 15th Sunday                                                                      7-13-2014
Is 55:10-11          Psalm 65          Rom 8:18-23          Mt 13:1-9

For three weekends this July we get to listen to parables from the Gospel of Matthew.  Today is the parable of the sower and the seed.  Next Sunday we will hear the parables of the wheat and the weeds, the mustard seed, and the yeast in the dough.  And at the end of July we will hear the parables of the buried treasure in the field, the pearl of great price, and the fishnet full of fish of every kind.

Parables are great.  They are multilayered, kind of like an artichoke.  Ever cook and eat an artichoke?  You pull the layers off to get the soft part of the leaf at the bottom.  Dip it in butter and eat it.  Yum.  Layer after layer.  Parables are like that.  So our job is to listen closely at Mass and ponder the layers of meaning.  When we give time to prayerfully study and meditate on the scriptures, then God is faithful to give us power for conversion.  Conversion of our own lives and of our community.

In order to hear scripture fruitfully I offer a little prayer I like to use.  Youve heard me say it before.  Its simple.  Something like this:
Lord, open my ears to hear your Word.  
Lord, open my mind to understand your Word.
Lord, open my heart to believe your Word.  
Lord, open my life to live out your Word.

Easy.  With that prayer to help us, lets go forward.  This first parable is the farmer who sowed the seed in the field.  Now, in any field, there is the main area that has good tilled earth, soft and ready.  This is usually the middle of the field.  And we know what the margins of the field are like.  Fence rows with weeds, paths, and rocky areas. So when sowing seeds - avoid the bad spots and farm where the seed will grow.  Right?

But Jesus farmer is different.  The seed is being thrown everywhere - on the path, on the rocky ground, in the middle of the weeds, as well as on the good soil.  Now remember, this parable is not really about farming techniques.  Instead, it is about Gods method for cultivating our souls.  So the sower is Jesus, the seed is the gospel, and our souls are the field.   God brings us his Word of salvation no matter what condition our souls are in.  In this parable Jesus teaches about what prevents us from growing in our faith.  So lets take a deeper look.

Problem #1.  Ignorance.  This may be the #1 reason why some Catholics leave the Church.  We have a rich deposit of faith, but some people dont bother to study it and understand it. They come to Mass occasionally but not every Sunday.  They bring their kids to RE classes or Catholic school, but dont really practice the faith at home.  So the kids grow up ignorant of the faith because the parents never understood it or practiced it.   They dont want to grow in knowledge. They are ignorant of their faith.  And so they are easy prey for the devil, who comes to steal their faith.  They leave the Church.  They may go to another religion that tickles their fancy or they stop going all together.  How many people have lost their faith because of ignorance? 
never understood it or practiced it.

People of God Decide today to grow in knowledge of the faith.  Lets cultivate our souls through study of sacred scripture, sacred tradition, and church teaching.

Problem #2.  Shallowness. This is the 2nd problem Jesus addresses.  These people have some knowledge of the faith BUT there is not much of a relationship with Jesus and with his church.  They can be enthusiastic while times are good.  But when the difficulties come, then they fall away. They were never transformed by a deeper relationship with Jesus and his Church.  That relationship is cultivated through a personal commitment to ongoing prayer and worship.  But they dont do that and so they are shallow in their faith.  They are easy prey for the devil, who comes to steal their faith.  How many people have lost their faith because of spiritual shallowness?

People of God - let us make a decision today for spiritual depth.  Lets cultivate our souls by seeking true spiritual depth together through regular prayer and worship.

Problem #3.  Distractions.  This is the third problem Jesus addresses - distractions.   He specifically mentions anxiety and the lure of riches.  This one is so relevant for today.  We have many distractions.  There is so much noise all around us and even inside our heads.  It is easy for people to become completely distracted.  And then, before we know it, there is no time for personal prayer.  Sunday Mass is merely another option for the weekend.  Time for spiritual growth cant compete with work, or sports, or other activities.  The gospel of Jesus has no opportunity to change these people because there is no time or place for it.  They have a malnourished and shallow faith because of too many distractions.  And so they are easy prey for the devil, who quickly steals their faith.  How many people have lost their faith because of distractions?

People of God - let us make a decision today to set aside distractions and make Jesus and his Church our highest priority.  Lets cultivate our souls by putting God first.

God desires to cultivate our souls for the salvation of the world.  What the church does in Marion County truly matters not just for our own community but even for the whole world.  So here is the guarantee of the Word of Christ we hear today.  A soul prepared by spiritual knowledge, spiritual depth, and spiritual focus will bear a rich harvest.  A harvest of love.  A harvest of service.  A harvest of holiness.  A harvest that can truly change the world.

Whoever has ears let them hear!

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