July 28, 2023
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
“The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” Matthew 13:22–23
Today, Jesus clarifies for His disciples the meaning of His parable told to the crowds. He explains the meaning of the seed sown on the path, on the rocky ground, among the thorns and on the rich soil. Quoted above are the last two of those explanations. When we look carefully at the meaning of the seed sown into the rich soil, we see that these are those who hear, understand and bear fruit. And the fruit that is born is in varying degrees. One thing that this parable tells us is that hearing and even understanding the Word of God is not enough. There are many temptations we will face that will hinder God’s Word in our lives. Let’s briefly consider each.
First, there are many people who have been blessed to hear the Word of God. There are many who have been to religious education classes, have been taught by parents and others, have attended Church services but have failed to allow what they have heard to penetrate deeply to the point that they understand. To hear the Word of God is very different from understanding the Word of God. One reason for this is that the pure Word of God, when heard and understood, challenges us to the core of our being. If one truly understands God’s Word, then that person cannot remain indifferent. They must change. And they must change in a complete way. Failure to do so means that it is impossible for good fruit to be born in their life to the degree God wants.
But understanding and changing is not even enough. This is because the enemies of our soul, traditionally spoken of as the world, the flesh, and the devil, will powerfully attack any person who receives the Word of God and decides to abide by that Word. For example, if you were to fully accept the teachings of Jesus regarding forgiveness of others, as soon as you make the choice to forgive, there would most likely be numerous temptations to abandon that practice. Pride, anger, hurt, the lies of the evil one and the world will all try to deter you from an act of complete forgiveness of others. Or take, for example, the call to live completely detached from “riches.” Jesus’ teachings on true spiritual poverty versus true spiritual riches require a depth of conversion that is difficult to obtain. Thus, the “lure of riches” is very hard to overcome.
In the end, if your soul is truly fertile ground and if you allow the most pure and complete teaching of the Gospel to penetrate your soul so as to change you in every way God wants to change you, then this means that you have overcome each and every temptation thrown at you. You have rejected the temptations that come from greed, pride, anger and the like. You have embraced humility, rejected worldly esteem, dismissed anxiety and worry and are directed only by the powerful, gentle, holy, and clear Voice of God in your life. This requires much prayer, much interior purification, total dedication and unwavering obedience to the Word of God spoken to you both through the Gospels and in the depths of your conscience. And even among those who achieve this level of holiness, the fruit born in their lives is dependent upon how fully and habitually they live by the guiding Word of God.
Reflect, today, upon this high calling from our Lord. Achieving the goal of having exceptionally rich soil in your heart for the Word of God requires unyielding commitment and determination. There are numerous temptations that will fight against the creation of a fertile heart. Try to look at your own heart today. Be honest. How fertile is it? Does the Word of God grow there? And if so, does it grow to superabundance? Commit yourself to the goal of becoming that rich soil in which the Word of God is sown that not only bears good fruit but bears good fruit that is a hundredfold.
My demanding Lord, You desire that every soul of every person You have created become the most pure and most fertile ground in which the seed of Your Word can grow and produce fruit in superabundance. Please help me to commit myself to this radical depth of holiness, dear Lord. My life is Yours. Please purify me, change me, mold me and produce in me an abundance of good fruit. Jesus, I trust in You.