Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Here we find a familiar parable or, at least, Jesus’ explanation of it: the seed is the Gospel and the soil is the heart of the one who hears the Gospel. As His disciples suspected, there was more to Jesus’ parable than there appeared to be.
The hard of heart do not even experience the Gospel penetrating into their lives; the Evil One comes like a hungry bird and snatches it away. There is also the fickle heart, the one which beats to the drum of whatever is loudest around it. This heart has faith when times are good and easy, when it has things its own way. But when things become difficult or are not according to its liking, the faith is lost. Perhaps it is a change in how Mass is celebrated in the parish. Perhaps there is a new priest, bishop or even pope. Perhaps we fall into some kind of sin or have a personal view on something and so we surround ourselves with people who are in the same boat. There are many ways in which our hearts can be quite fickle, that our faith can wither in the face of difficulty. When our faith is pressed, how do we respond: with fidelity even if it means some suffering, or do we look for a comfortable escape route?
There is also the fearful heart, the heart that cannot fully trust Jesus. This is the heart that begins to realize what Jesus is asking in its conversion, the things that must be given up, the tasks Jesus is asking of it, or the challenges that will inevitably come from the world around it because of that faith. This is also the heart that cannot trust in God’s providence and that seeks security in the things of this world, things that we can control. “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven,” He tells us, “…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:33-34) If we cling to the things of this life for security, then our hearts are here as well and our faith is choked off by the weeds of fear. If we trust in the Lord, then our hearts are with Him, which is where our hearts truly desire to be.
The heart that trusts in the Lord, that loves Him, this is the heart Jesus desires of us. Think for a moment about the saints: these are examples of hearts who, after their own struggles and God’s patient work in them, came to trust Jesus with their whole lives; these people changed the world. We need not look far to find examples like St. Therese of Lisieux who, though she never left the convent, yet touched the lives of millions throughout the world. St. John Paul II, Bl. Mother Theresa, St. Francis Xavier, St. Dominic: Jesus tilled the soil of these hearts until they were rich, until the seed of the Gospel within could take deep root and flourish. Let us look to the example of our favorite saints and ask for their help in coming to trust Jesus more, that our hearts might also be prepared as rich seedbeds for His Word.