2 Samuel 7:4-17
"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."
It’s been a long week for me . . .and it’s only Monday night. So, this gospel with its message of the importance of God’s Word comes at just the right time. I’m sure a lot of us have tended a garden in some way. It’s amazing what can be born of a tiny seed-fruits and vegetables that can sustain us. But if the seed isn’t properly cared for, the potential can be lost.
Today’s gospel tells the well-known story of the sower. I remember as a child hearing this gospel and picturing God up in the clouds showering the earth with seeds. At the time, I had no doubt which category I fell into. Of course, I was like the rich soil ready to let the Word form deep and lasting roots within me. This was a time when I don’t think I knew what "worldly anxiety" or "the lure of riches" even meant. When I read the passage now, I can recall times in my life when-if I am being honest-my heart was perhaps made more of rocky soil.
I think what struck me most as I re-read this parable is Jesus’ warnings about those things that can corrupt and smother the Word as it tries to take root. This story is a vivid reminder that evil is a real force in our world and that Satan is hard at work to keep us from faith. You know when you are sitting in Church and your mind starts to wander to all the important things you need to do with your day? Or maybe when you wake up Sunday morning and are sure that the chores and responsibilities you have should legitimately keep you from attending Mass? Jesus tells us that this is Satan whispering in our ear in that intoxicating way that he has-so that we don’t even know it’s him. He keeps us from the Word and the seed falls on the path and doesn’t even have a chance.
But even if we are strong in our faith and allow the Word to grow and flourish, this is not the end. Just as a garden needs constant attention to keep it healthy, so does our faith. When difficulty and trials come, as they inevitably will, the Word can wither within us like those seeds that fell on the rocky soil. This is when it just seems too hard to keep tending the garden. Satan tells us the lie that the Word doesn’t have the power we thought.
The third ruse is perhaps the most deceitful. "The cares of the world, and the deceit of riches and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." Did you ever feel like holding fast to your faith meant that you were giving up something more attractive? Did you ever feel like the sacrifice you had to make to keep the Word alive was too great? Those lies can strangle and suffocate the truth that is faith in Christ.
So let us prepare our hearts to receive God’s word. Let us make sure that the soil is ready for the seeds to grow deep roots. The promise is that of life-sustaining fruit over and above all that we can even imagine. And with such an overflowing garden, maybe we can even go out and sow some seeds of love, kindness, peace and joy.
Marlo Serritella is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.