Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10-14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)
Preparing the Soil of Your Heart and Mind to Receive Jesus’ Words
He spoke to them . . . in parables (Matthew 13:3)
You’ve probably heard many homilies. Which ones have stuck with you? Close your eyes for a minute, and try to recall one.
If you’re like most people, you remembered this one because it featured a compelling, memorable story. And this, as the title of a recent business book puts it, produced a message that is Made to Stick.
Jesus was a master of “sticky” messages, parables like today’s Gospel reading of the sower and the seed. They are not short stories like the kind you would fi nd in an anthology or tell as a bedtime tale. Usually quite short, Jesus’ parables might be a simple image or description from ordinary life; if they’re stories, they often take a surprising twist. But always, they offer a comparison between something we know (a seed, a banquet, a lost sheep) and something that Jesus wants us to understand (the kingdom of God, the Father’s love).
Jesus’ parables stick with us because they open our minds and invite us into the story, which, if we have ears to hear, is endlessly deep. Each parable is like the seed in today’s Gospel—alive, good in every season, and capable of yielding an abundant harvest year after year, if the soil is receptive.
In a way, Jesus himself is the most wondrous parable of all. His life, to quote another book title, is truly The Greatest Story Ever Told. The whole gospel story presents the gripping drama of a Father who longs to save his children; about his Son, whose love moves him to carry out the ultimate rescue mission; about the Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus and now fills and transforms us into the likeness of Christ.
And now that greatest of stories continues on in each of us. Will its message stick? It’s up to us.
“Welcome, Master of the harvest! Sow your word in every part of me. Grow whatever crop you desire. I want to know you and love you more each day.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, God tells us through the metaphor of rain how fruitful his word is, always “achieving the end” for which he sent it. What part does the word of God play in your life? What can you do this week to devote more time to Scripture reading?
- In the responsorial psalm, again we read of the role of rain in preparing, “breaking,” “softening,” and “blessing” the land to yield a “rich harvest.” Can you think of a time when God’s word softened your heart and lead to fruitful changes in your life?
- In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul speaks of the hope we have that “creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Where in your life have you known victory over sin and “freedom” as a child of God?
- In the Gospel, we read once again of the seed and the harvest. Which of the soils described in the Parable of the Sower best describes the state of your heart? What steps can you take to make your heart a “rich soil” that “hears the word and understand it” and “bears fruit”?
- Jesus also speaks of those who look but do not see, and those who hear but do not listen. When receiving the Eucharist at Mass, how careful are you to prepare your heart and mind to really see and listen? What about prior to hearing the Sunday Mass readings? Try taking some additional steps to prepare your heart and mind at Mass. You may be surprised at what happens.
- The Gospel and the meditation speak of thorns. What thorns, big or small, may be keeping Jesus at a distance in your life?
- The meditation ends with these words: “The whole gospel story presents the gripping drama of a Father who longs to save his children; about his Son, whose love moves him to carry out the ultimate rescue mission; about the Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus and now fills and transforms us into the likeness of Christ. And now that greatest of stories continues on in each of us. Will its message stick? It’s up to us.” In what ways do you allow the power of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform you “into the likeness of Christ”? How can you do even better?
- Take some time now to pray that the Lord would prepare your heart and mind to receive more of his Word, so that it would transform you and bear much fruit in your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)