(Submitted by me for today’s bulletin as a member of my parish’s Spiritual Life Committee.)
The first reading from Isaiah (55:10-11) gives us these words from the Lord:
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it. (55:11)
In the gospel passage (Matthew 13:1-23), Jesus confides in the disciples this explanation of the last sentence of the Parable of the Sower:
the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit (Matthew 13:23)
Prior to this closing verse, Christ tells us of the ways we can attempt to thwart God’s work: lack of understanding, tribulation, persecution, worldly anxiety, and the lure of riches. All of these can prevent the Almighty’s will to be done in us and through us.
With all of these challenges Scripture helps us, though:
- Lack of understanding: pray Psalm 119 for an increase of this gift of the Holy Spirit (I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies! – v. 125)
- Tribulation: we know that life is full of trials, but they pale in comparison to the ultimate reward if we stay faithful (Jesus says: In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world – John 16:33)
- Persecution: being faithful to our religious convictions guarantees maltreatment but it can be endured when that faith has deep roots (all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted – 2 Timothy 3:12)
- Worldly anxiety: it is easy to be caught up in daily concerns that are passing so stay close to the Word of God (that is, Jesus) and nothing can shake you (Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part [listening to Jesus] and it will not be taken from her. – Luke 10:41-42)
- Lure of riches: the gospels make it clear that attachment to temporary worldly possessions can have eternal consequences (Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. – Mark 10:21 and What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? – Matthew 16:26)
So we must ask unceasingly the Lord’s help in eliminating those things that interfere with His will for us, listen attentively to His word, and seek understanding of that word through prayer and the Church, the latter to whom God has given the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.
What will you do today — and every day — to better hear Jesus and understand Him and thus bear much fruit?