Friday, July 24 ~ Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Sharbel Makhluf, Priest
Holy Gospel: Matthew 13:18-23 Jesus said to his disciples: “Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. 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 thirty-fold.”
Meditation: This parable of Jesus is a warning to those who hear and who preach the word of God. What makes us ineffective and unresponsive to God’s word? Preoccupation with other things can distract us from what is truly important and worthwhile. And letting our hearts and minds be consumed with material things can easily weigh us down and draw us away from the treasure that lasts for eternity. God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart which is docile and ready to hear what God has to say. One lesson is quite clear: the harvest is sure. While some seed will fall by the wayside and some fall on shallow ground and never come to maturity, and some be choked to death by the thorns; nonetheless a harvest will come. The seed that falls on good soil, on the heart that is receptive, will reap abundant fruit.
Prayer: O God, who called the Priest Saint Sharbel Makhluf to the solitary combat of the desert and imbued him with all manner of devotion, grant us, we pray, that, being made imitators of the Lord’s Passion, we may merit to be co-heirs of his Kingdom. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: To respond to this parable, we need to look at the story as if we are the seed. Many who hear the Gospel never seem to “get it.” The message is forgotten before it ever takes root. Statistically, 50% of all Catholic youth who receive the sacraments disappear somewhere between age 18 and 35. Shallow roots fail to equip them to take the heat of our secular culture. Then there are the 89% of lifelong, regular churchgoers who, according to a Gallup Poll, embrace the values and lifestyles identical to those of their secular neighbors, devoid of anything rooted in the laws of God or the teachings of Jesus Christ. Their Catholic faith has been neutralized by poor theology, poor catechesis, and a focus on worldliness. Then there are those who stay away from serious sin, manage to do some good for some people, but all in all produce a mediocre harvest. Finally there are those who are not satisfied with just getting by. They sink their roots deep into the truths of Scripture, tradition, prayer and the sacraments, and as a result produce a bumper crop. So, what kind of seed are you?