Isaiah 55:10-11, Romans 8:18-23, Matthew 13:1-23
Dear brothers and sisters,
A family was on vacation, and as they rode down the highway there was a big sign that read: Road Closed. They maneuvered around the sign and continued on. Suddenly the road ended and there was an even larger sign: “What part of ‘Road closed’ didn’t you understand?” (Reader’s Digest, Laughter Really is the Best Medicine, pg. 171)
Today we can ask ourselves: How do I receive the Word of God? Jesus gives us a parable and an explanation in today’s Gospel, which comes from Saint Matthew. There are people who don’t understand the word of the kingdom and that evil comes and steals away what was sown in the heart. We can hope we are not in that group, but we might be. The second group are those who hear the word and receive it immediately with joy but when difficulties come, these people immediately fall away. Hopefully we are not like that either. There are also people who hear the word but then anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. We might be like that but we can hope not. We want to be like the last person mentioned: a person who hears the word and understands it and who bears fruit!
The reality is that we probably belong to each of those various groups at various times. Jesus is not telling us a parable to condemn us but to invite us to change our ways of living so that we can be more consistently in that last group: hearing and responding to the word and bearing fruit in our lives.
We heard in the first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, that God’s word will accomplish the end for which it was sent. This sounds as if it is automatic. Rather than automatic, this word of God will continue to work on us for our whole life, seeking to draw us to the Lord. What lacks is our cooperation. We should not be surprised by that. Instead, we must do our part to cooperate with the word: begin the spiritual combat which means to fight all within us that is against the word. Our Christian life is a life of combat against ourselves and against all the cultural values which are not in accord with the word of God.
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Romans and tells us that actually all of creation is groaning with the desire to be transformed into the new creation. We ourselves have the first fruits of the Spirit within us, yet often we do not respond. So, we also groan with all creation, hoping and praying for the complete adoption as children of God and the redemption of our bodies.
This second reading is clear: we are redeemed body and soul. So often today we find those who think that only our soul might be saved. No! Our Creed and our longstanding belief is that we are saved body and soul. Again, we have the challenge of spiritual combat both with our “soul” and with our “body.” Not all that we want or desire is in accord with the will of the Lord. We have to struggle, as does all creation, in order to let God, conform us according to His will.
Let us give thanks to the Lord for His teachings to us this day. Let us continue to prepare our lives so that we may receive God’s word and respond to it. Amen.
Peace and all Good!
Fr. Valery Burusu