We have been learning from psychologists, as well as Eastern religions, that attentiveness is not the best trait of the “prosperous” Western mind. Yet more and more of us pride ourselves on multi-tasking! But a certain kind of Buddhism makes “mindfulness” the very center of religion. And now our society deems it necessary to double the fine for those who injure a highway worker if the offender is driving while using his/her mobile phone!
Today’s Gospel reminds us how vital is the attention we give to God’s Word. The parable, however, is not so much about the seed, it’s about the sower. The narrative is not to center on the fault of those who are scattered in their thoughts and unable to concentrate like seed choked or dried-up or scorched. (Why do so many of us need to have things repeated, emails re-sent, conversations re-connected?) Rather, like the image of The Sower by Jean Millet, God’s love is bounteous, not stingy; unconditional and indiscriminate, not measured and parsimonious.
As the summer begins to taper off, today might be a good day to ponder the fact that decisions determine actions, actions create habits, habits build character, and character evolves into my destiny or legacy. Maybe just being attentive to my wife during dinner, or gently returning to prayer when distracted, or giving full attention to my child, a piece of music, or my work… would be a faithful way to receive the seed of God’s love today.
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. ministers as a preacher of parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.