God tells us, “my word shall not return to me void but shall do my will achieving the end for which I sent it.” God intends for his word not just to be heard but he expects it to have a transformative effect on us. Every word given to us by God in the scriptures is for a purpose but do we hear it; do we open ourselves up to be touched by it; do we even think it is important or is our mind wandering as we attempt to listen to the Liturgy of the Word.
Today’s parable of the Whn is so familiar we know it is referring to how we respond to the word of God. But I am willing to bet that as we listen to it we fail to examine our own hearts but instead think of those we know who fit every type of ground and growth by the seed.
The seed that fell on rocky ground had little root so it withers and dies; we know people like that. In fact, we know for certain that 50% of those who receive confirmation stop going to church before they reach the age of 30. The seed of faith was planted in them but if failed to take root for a variety of reasons and yet God desires his word to make their hearts burn within them. Apparently what we are teaching them cannot withstand the lure of the things offered by the society we live in.
There are people we know who have rejected the life of joy offered us by Christ and by their own admission they find church has little to offer but hypocrisy. These are the ones who have had their seed eaten by the “birds.
But throwing out seed by the broadcast method described by Jesus is just that throwing out seed hoping some of it will grow. Compare that to the farmer who takes the time to prepare the soil for planting and does everything possible to provide fertilizer and water in proper amounts. We as a community of faith have left this job of planting seeds up to the church without understanding how significant your role is in any seed taking root by the example you set.
We know from years and years of data that 89% of faithful Catholics have the same values as the materialistic, self serving pagan world in which we live. It is no wonder why those who look at us consider us hypocritical because our lives do not match our stated values. These faithful 89% are the very people who because they are faithful in attending church believe they have attained holiness but in truth they have not allowed the word of God to transform them. Instead their fruit is overtaken by the weeds and thorns of the world making it impossible for the transforming power of God’s word to bring fruit out of the weeds which surrounds their daily life.
The words of Christ should make us examine ourselves instead of thinking of others. This parable should make us wonder how we have come to believe. Have we like the disciples taken the time to listen to Christ and not just hear the words but attempt to apply them to our lives? Our focus is to be on us not on others. Jesus teaches us this lesson when he after his resurrection reveals himself to the disciples as they were once again fishing (Jn. 21:17-22). He asks Peter do you love me. This is a question we must at some time answer and acknowledge.
It is not enough for us to say we believe in Jesus Christ – we must love him. The first and greatest command is to love God with all our heart, our minds and our souls. This is the kind of soil that allows the Word of God to grow in our hearts.
However, it is a love that is individual and specific as Jesus tells Peter in verse 21 & 22. In these verses Peter is invited to follow Jesus and he looks back at “the one Jesus loved and says to Jesus “what about him.” This is us for we worry about the faith of our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, our siblings and even our parents. Jesus’ answer is revealing as he says “why is he your concern – follow me.”
This is the key to bearing fruit and being good soil able to bear good fruit – us seeking the person of Jesus and opening our hearts to love him with all our being. It is then we become good witnesses and everything we do is rooted in our love of God and love of neighbor. It is then we learn that this parable begins with us being able to let the word of God take root in our hearts and allowing the word of God to achieve the end for which it was sent. It is when we are transformed by his word we become the sower and begin to be seed planters.
When we allow the word of God to transform our hearts we will begin to see with our eyes, hear with our ears and understand our call to discipleship. Jesus will send you the Holy Spirit to complete your conversion into disciples. It is then you become a sower of seeds and each moment of your life speaks volumes to those who are seeking but not finding. It is not practicing our faith that makes those seeking desire what God offers them – it is living our faith that makes them hunger and thirst for the transforming power of God in their lives.