28 July 2006

Stop blaming the dirt!

16th Week OT (Fri): Jer 3.14-17; Matthew 13.18-23
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

Brothers and sisters, it’s time we stopped blaming the dirt! It’s time we stopped shaming the soil! For too long we have shunned the sandy soil, the thorny thickets, and the rocky rolling hills. It has become too easy, too simple to explain away our failures as the Lord’s Farmers by saying, “It’s not me, Lord, it’s the dirt!” It’s easy to blame the dirt. Easy to point a finger at the soil and say, “Too rocky!” Or, “Not rich enough!” Or, “Too many thorns!” The dirt just is. It’s just there waiting to do whatever it is by it’s nature capable of doing—being rocky, being sandy, being thorny. So, let’s hear no more whining about Bad Ground, or Poor Soil.

Who’s to blame when the seed doesn’t sprout or doesn’t hold root or fails to blossom? Read the Gospel! The Evil One steals the tender sprout from the row. It is the Devil who robs the first budding of faith from one who receives the seed—from one who hears the Word—but doesn’t understand it. Tribulations yank the joyful, sprouted plant from its rocky ground. It is the Big Test, the Trial of living the Word in a hostile world that weeds this rootless hearer, this believer without a firm foundation. Anxiety and the temptations of Mammon choke the tiny leaves of the seed planted among the thorns. It is the failure to trust God and serve Him first and only that saps vital nutrients from the believer, kills his blossom, and withers his spiritual fruit.

But, again, it is not the fault of the dirt. Soil can be rocky, sandy, thorny. The hearer of the Word may be ignorant, shallow, skeptical. Soil can be dry, acidic, hard packed. The hearer of the Word may be despairing, hard-hearted, stubborn. Where the seed falls is where the seed falls. Where the Word is heard is where the Word is heard. He is heard. Planted. He is seen. Planted. But it is not enough to broadcast seed and make wishes on stars for a good harvest. It is not enough to broadcast the Word and cross our fingers for jam-packed churches.

The point of this parable is that it is our job, our mission and ministry to make sure that we ourselves are properly tilled, properly weeded, properly watered and mulched so that when we walk into the fields of the Lord to do what he told us to do—to go make disciples—we are the richest soil we can be, we are producing the finest fruit we can produce, we are yielding a hundredfold and working hard on a thousandfold!

To be blunt: the ignorant, the shallow, the skeptical, the despairing, the hard-hearted, and the stubborn out there will not receive the seed, will not hear the Word if they look at us and see ignorance, shallowness, skepticism, despair, hard-heartedness, and stubbornness. Nor can they receive the seed, hear the Word if they see us coming at them with disobedience, infidelity, dishonesty, dissent, anger, and quarreling. And why should they? Who in their right mind wants to hear whining dissent or wounded bawling from those who are supposed to be flourishing in rich soil!?

I’ll end with this question: assuming that you (that we) are broadcasting the seed, spreading God’s Word, are we also preparing the soil to receive it—are we ourselves noticeably thriving in the rich soil of the Father’s will, producing good fruit for others, and tending His fields with fidelity?

1 comment:

  1. http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2006/07/thoughts-on-todays-gospel-reading.html