Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort.

"Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross; he waited until one of them turned to him." - ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

(Gospel Text: MK 4:1-20)
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction he said to them,
“Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
“The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that

they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

We all know that God’s ways are not our ways. But did you know that also means that his farming methods are not our farming methods?

God is also a very optimistic farmer. St. John Chrysostom tells us that even when planting conditions are unpromising, “it is his way never to stop sowing the seed.” This doesn’t work for actual farming, Chrysostom admits. But when the terrain is human beings with free will and willingness to change, “there is such a thing as the rock becoming rich land, the trampled wayside becoming a fertile field, and the thorns being destroyed.”

And so whether you think you are good soil or bad, God is at work in your plot—in you. His kingdom is near! How is it coming to you? Through a conversation; a Scripture verse; a prodding to help a neighbor, to go to Confession, to pray with a friend, to mend a relationship, to kick a habit?

Whatever word God is sending you today, welcome it, act on it, and let it change you.

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