What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend to heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting life is offered; the Lord promises His Kingdom. - St. Cyprian of Carthage: (Born around 200 AD in North Africa, of pagan parents. He was a prominent trial lawyer and teacher of rhetoric.)
Gospel Text: (LK 8:4-15)
When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
“Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.
“This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”
On our hikes through life, we encounter all three types of terrain that Jesus talks about. We trip on the rocks of temptation and get choked in the thorns of anxieties and desires for riches or pleasures while we plod towards the rich soil of generosity and good hearts. We stumble and get up because Jesus tells us that God’s word will take root in us if we persevere.
Jesus understands that this is a process. Even the greatest saints hated to give up their favorite sins. Remember St. Augustine asking God to grant him chastity and continence but not yet? The same goes for the anxieties, pleasures and riches that choke us in the thorns. They attract us even as they hurt us.
However since neither rocks nor thorns are great places to live, we seek something better – something like the guidance that Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the great medical missionary, offered when he said that the “only ones who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
Today Jesus is calling us to seek such lives of generosity and happiness. We’ll stumble on the rocks and get caught in the thorns en route but if we persist, we’ll make it.