|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXIII: ”Four Things Which Bring Great Peace” (first entry)
The “four things” mentioned in the title of this chapter are: do the will of another; choose to have less rather than more; seek the last place, being subject to everyone; pray to perfectly fulfill the will of God. The disciple thanks Christ for this teaching and then composes prayers against evil thoughts and for enlightenment. The sentence above comes near the end of the chapter, with the disciple recognizing the need for abundant grace in order to fulfill the Lord’s commands and to thus attain great peace.
|Today’s Gospel reading: Mt 13:1-23
This lengthy reading begins with the Parable of the Sower, followed by an explanation by Jesus of His use of parables, then how the disciples are privileged to gain insight from Jesus regarding parables, and finally an explanation of the parable just shared. The parable has a sower spreading seed that falls on four types of ground: a path, rock-filled, thorny, fertile. A path has no depth of soil so birds eat the seed quickly; rocks contain little soil so a quick spurt followed by withering is the result; thorns choke the sprout; rich soil allows for stability and growth. The disciples eventually are given the meaning of the parable: those on the path do not understand the Word and thus it quickly goes away; those on rocky ground receive the word joyfully but tribulations and persecutions cause a falling away; thorns of worldly cares choke off the initial enthusiasm of God’s word; but fertile soil is ripe for hearing the word and bearing fruit.
Left unsaid in the Gospel is that not only does Jesus provide the seed of the word but He also tills and nurtures the ground (that is, us) and rains down grace in order to grow our faith and give merit to our good works so that they will bear fruit for the benefit of others. Kempis asks the Lord to “bring down the waters of devotion” on His disciples. This is a vital component of the spiritual life. We show our devotion (or lack thereof) in the way we live our lives. But we should not neglect formal devotions as well. At least one of the rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, a novena, the Divine Mercy chaplet; consecrations, and more, should have a place in our daily routines. These are great gifts that God has supplied to us through His Church to make our lives richer and to grow closer to Him through frequent reminders of the Source of life and goodness. These are nutrients that help keep our souls fertile ground for the water of grace the Spirit desires to pour upon us.