“[O]utward consolation is no small hindrance to interior and divine consolation.” (IC 1,10,2) “Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety…and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.” (Mk 4:18-19)

Kempis’s words (1,10) come as a response to those who seek comfort in their troubles first from one another.  Again, he recommends silence (“watch and pray”) as the better course.

Today’s Gospel gives us the famous Parable of the Sower and its explanation to the Twelve Apostles (Mk 4:1-20).  Jesus often taught in parables.  On this occasion He does so to a large crowd.  Jesus tells of the sower who scatters seed indiscriminately, some on a path, some on rocky ground, some in thorns, and some on rich soil.  Birds quickly ate up the first, the sun wilted the growth of the second, the thorns choked the third, but fruitful were the last seeds.

The quote in the headline is Jesus’ explanation of what happens to the persons He is describing in the third scenario.  They hear the word, alright, but what initially appeals to them in God’s word gets choked off and takes a back seat to all sorts of worldly concerns; the Word is not applied.

Looking for “outward consolation” can certainly be a hindrance to embracing the Word of God, can it not?  We commiserate, looking to unburden ourselves, looking for sympathy, maybe even casting aspersions on others in doing so.  Kempis’s advice — to seek first consolation from the Lord through prayer and contemplation — is much preferred.  Search the Scriptures.  Search your conscience.  What is causing this trouble?  What remedy to apply and what example to follow do we find in the Bible and the saints?

This is not to say, of course, that a trusted friend or a spiritual director cannot be consulted, if needed.  But it is best first to take one’s concerns to prayer and, generally (unless an extreme emergency), to pray on it before seeking outside help, and even then not to broadcast these issues widely.

We can all relate to the prudence of “sleeping on it.”  Just make sure to add “reading on it” and “praying on it” as well.

Sowing the Seeds (Greek Catholic Cathedral of Hajdúdorog, Hungary) (late 18th c.)
by unknown (most probably Mihály Mankovics)

 

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