By Orlando Hernandez
This Wednesday’s Gospel (Mt 13:1-9 ) presents Jesus’ parable of the sower, which was read two Sundays ago in longer form. Our Lord tells us:
“ A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seeds fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear. “
Last Sunday we heard the parable of the weeds among the wheat ( Mt 13:24-43 ), showing us again the we should have great admiration for farmers, because getting crops to grow is no easy thing! I myself desperately need a “green thumb”. I have this patch of grass in front of my house that frustrates me even year. I keep on adding fertilizer and more and more grass seeds, but eventually the place looks much more barren than the rest of the lawn. What is the earth in this section lacking? What does then other section of the lawn have? I just don’t know.
Now, how do these metaphors pertain to my spiritual life? I have to ask, what was there suddenly present in the soil of my heart, after forty-two years without faith, that God suddenly became alive and urgent in my life? That was ten years ago. Then, when I first heard these parables, I became terrified at the thought that my soul was really like the rocky soil in the parable, that the religious fervor and joy that I was feeling was just a passing thing, that I would let Jesus down again. And the weeds and the choking thorns? It seemed that every time things did not turn out right, someone got on my nerves, laziness got the best of me, or suffering hit me in the face, I reacted in a less than Christian way! And yet, despite the ups and downs, the “ scorching “ summers, the rough winters, in the end this field of mine keeps on yielding a harvest of faith, hope, and love from God, in God, for God and for all His children. Thank you, Beloved!
What has kept the soil of my heart “rich” enough all these years ? Our Lord says that it is understanding of the word of God. How does one “understand” the word of God, with the mind, with the heart, or both ? What is this understanding like ? What is the “ word “ of God ?
This is too much to fully cover in this writing, but here are some ideas. I feel the word of God is his very Self — which is his unfathomable love, and when love touches your soul, you’re ready for anything. And how to we perceive this message of love ? This faculty is also a gift of God. Saint Paul tells us, “ no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.”( 1 Cor, 2 : 11-12 )
This understanding, this love, is the “ food “ that makes the field of our hearts ready to grow good crops. We are also the crop : good, golden wheat, to be cut and tossed about, threshed, and crushed, baked, blessed, broken, and given for the world in the name of Christ! This is really not very appealing to many people (and so the barren fields ). It does not seem that pleasurable or glamorous. Why has it appealed to me ?
Wednesday’s first reading (Ex, 6 : 12-15 ) describes the manna that falls from heaven to feed the people. God’s “Miracle Growth” of faith, his Holy Spirit, has fallen unto the field of my soul for so many years, softly, and gradually, and lovingly. I was looking at the entries in my spiritual journal over the last number of years and came across so many inspirations in my life, brought by the holy example of so many people : my son, who got me to come back to church, my wife, who is my guide in so many ways, the many, many kind, loving priests who opened my heart to the scriptures and to the loving message of God. There are so many folks that I have helped, and helped me along the way, showing me their example and sacrifice, their very love, their light. And there is Jesus, Himself, the crucified and risen One, coming to me every day with his patience and tenderness, in the Eucharist and in prayer.
All these persons have indeed been God’s wheat, God’s bread, blessed, broken, given onto me like gently falling dew upon the soil of my life, spiritual food for my soul. I am reminded that St. Paul of the Cross once said something like this : “ The human soul is the ground upon which God rests.” The Greek word for soil is “ hummus “, the root of the word “ humility “ . This humility, also a gift from God , seems to be one of those ingredients also needed for the soil of our hearts to accept the word of God.
Dear Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to the miracle of your loving presence resting within me. Please, open the eyes of those around me. Give me the wisdom and strength to reflect you. Give me the ” green thumb” that I need so much!