Thursday, July 13, 2017

Reflection on Matthew 13:1-23

Here is my reflection on the Gospel passage for Sunday, July 16, 2017

Today’s Gospel reading is one with which most people are very familiar.  It’s one of those readings where you begin to hear it and you say to yourself “Oh, I know how this goes.”  You know that the seed that falls on the path are those who don’t understand the Word of God and have it snatched away, etc.  The problem with a reading like this is that after you hear it so many times, you think there’s nothing new to learn from it.  But the Bible is the living Word of God so there must be more it can say to us, right? 
As I prayed and reflected over this Gospel passage, a pair of words really stood out to me.  The first of those words is seed.  Now, Jesus later explains that this seed is the Word of God.  The person sowing the seed is throwing it everywhere, hoping some of the seed will grow.  Let’s think about this for a second.  Imagine you’re a farmer and you want to plant seeds to grow your crops.  Are you just going to throw those seeds everywhere and hope some of them grow into the crops you want to harvest?  That’s pretty wasteful, right?  It would be pretty expensive to buy seeds that you’re going to essentially throw away.  But look at what God is doing.  So great is God’s love for us that God isn’t concerned with the cost.  Some of those seeds will grow. 
So now the seed of God’s Word has been planted in us, and hopefully we all can feel it starting to grow.  We start feeling that desire to become closer to God and enter into a deeper relationship.  Seeds can’t grow all on their own.  For plants to grow, they need to be nurtured, they need enough water, sunlight, etc.  So how do we nurture the seeds of God’s Word in us to help them grow? 
On way is learn more about the faith.  Reading the bible and meditating on what you’ve read is a great place to start.  The bible is the living Word of God so what is it saying to you?   Read a few verses and then listen to what God is trying to tell you.  Then read that passage again.  You’ll be surprised at what you hear God say if you quiet yourself and open your heart to listen.  Read other spiritual books such as the ones we have available after Mass.  There are many resources available to deepen your faith. 
Another important way to nurture the seeds of God’s Word is prayer.  Dedicate some time every day for prayer.  Even if it’s just ten minutes a day to start, finding that time to pray is like watering a plant to help it grow.  Prayer doesn’t have to be fancy.  Praying the Our Father and the Hail Mary is a great place to start.  You’ll find the more you pray the more you’ll want to pray, the more you’ll want to thank God for God’s many blessings to us.  Pray for others, your family, your friends, your fellow inmates, for those who you are not getting along with. 
As the seed of God’s Word grows within you it will lead you to conversion, which brings me to the second word that stood out to me today: healing.  Jesus quotes Isaiah and says the people will not hear with their ears or see with their eyes “lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND BE CONVERTED, AND I HEAL THEM.  Let me repeat that, lest they UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND BE CONVERTED, AND I HEAL THEM.  God wants to plant God’s Word into our hearts so we can be healed.  Healed of all the things that are dragging us down spiritually and emotionally.  Things like sin, anxiety, fear, addiction, feelings of unworthiness.  God can heal us of everything that afflicts us and prevents us from becoming closer to God. 
This healing allows us to start letting go of all these anxieties, worries, and burdens that drag us down.  We let go of them by trusting that God has a plan for us and will take care of us.  Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  God knows what you need and wants to give it to you.  Learning to trust in God brings another benefit besides providing you what you need: it brings you peace.  Peace in knowing that God is always there for you, no matter what.  No matter how many times we fall down, God will always be there to pick us up and give us strength to keep going.  And what can provide more peace of mind than know that? 
So we’ve received the Word of God, we’ve taken steps to help that seed grow, and we’ve begun to feel healing and peace.  What’s next?  Let’s turn back to the analogy of the seed and the plant.  Once the plant is grown and matures, what does it do?  Why, it goes to seed.  These new seeds are carried by the wind and begin to sprout new plants in other places.  So the plant begins to multiply, perhaps 30, or 60, or 100 fold.  So it is with the Word of God.  As we mature in our faith, we begin to spread new seeds that will hopefully be planted in someone else’s heart and begin to grow there. 
But how do we scatter these seeds?  First of all, by living our faith.  Treating others as Jesus would treat them, with love, patience, compassion.  Praying for our needs and the needs of others.  Thanking and praising God for all of our blessings, all the time.  Be an example for others of what it means to be a Christian.  Believe me, people will notice.  And eventually, they may want that same peace that you have.  If they ask you about it, talk to them about your experiences and the good things God has done for you.  Don’t worry about whether or not you know the Bible or can quote Scripture, tell others YOUR story.  How God has made a difference in YOUR life.  That is how you plant seeds in other people’s hearts. 
So work to make yourself fertile soil for God’s Word to grow within you.  Open yourself up to God’s healing and peace.  God will reward you with more blessings than you would have ever imagined. 


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