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The Soil of My Life
Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some 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. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Opening Prayer: Mother Mary, help me see your Son, Our Lord Jesus, with new eyes,and help me hear him speaking these parables. Help me understand how these parables apply to my life. Mother, I want to love Jesus with all my heart. It is so easy to let the busyness of life and the general attitudes of people around me distract me from spending time with him. Please take me by the hand and guide me to him. Intercede for me, please, that I grow in faith, hope, and love to be more and more who your Son calls me to be.
- A Large Crowd Gathered: So many people gathered to hear Jesus speak that he had to leave the place where he was seated and teach from a boat. People probably came for many reasons. Some had heard of his teachings and wanted to hear more. Others had seen him heal someone or cast out a demon and wanted to know more about him. It may be that some were there because a family member or a friend brought them. Others may have just seen a crowd gathering and joined the group because they were curious. Perhaps some were skeptical and came in order to find things that they could report to the authorities. There is no simple answer as to why people sought out Jesus. What do we hope for in our daily encounters with Christ? Today, we can reflect on our disposition as we spend this time with Jesus in prayer.
- He Spoke in Parables: St. Matthew’s Gospel presents Jesus’ teaching as very straightforward in Chapters 5-7. For example, “…everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment…” (Matthew 5:22). In these verses, Jesus spoke in parables, and he spoke at length. Parables are not simple statements of facts, black and white instructions, but are invitations to reflect, to mull things over. This takes time and interior recollection. It takes an interior disposition to want to be touched with a personal application of the truth Jesus is presenting. Presenting his teaching in parables is a way Jesus honors our freedom to assent in faith. He doesn’t “coerce” us by the weight of irrefutable proof. We have to choose him. We are called to allow Jesus to shape us by his word, to let the Word of God change our lives.
- What Kind of Soil: We can look at the rocky soil, the shallow soil, and the rich soil as responses to Jesus’ message by different individuals. However, we can also use these references to soil as we consider our own lives. St. Thomas Aquinas is credited with the saying, “Grace builds on nature.” In other words, our spiritual life doesn’t grow in isolation but is built on the foundation of self-knowledge, emotional maturity, psychological health, and virtue, as well as prayer. St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Our spiritual life is not separate from all the other aspects of our life. We need to seek out an integral formation that is spiritual, apostolic, intellectual, and human. We need to develop our character, our gifts, our mental and emotional health, and, yes, our physical health to be all that God created us to be, and so that we can glorify him in every aspect of our lives. Perhaps we see the rocky soil as those areas where we struggle to accept the cross of Christ. The shallow soil may be an area where we fail to persevere in living the faith deeply. We see evidence of rich soil where we notice growth and fruit, and we thank God for these great blessings.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, your parables challenge me to see my life in new ways and to make changes so that my life is a more faithful reflection of your life. Lord, help me to “walk my talk.” Let me see those areas where I need to grow, so that I am not only growing in my knowledge of the faith, but that I am more the person you created me to be in all areas of my life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pay attention to my behaviors so that at the end of the day, I can determine whether there is a particular area in which I need to develop virtue, emotional maturity, or human skills to support my spiritual life.
For Further Reflection: Emotional & Spiritual Maturity: The Difference? (Part I Of II).
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.