In this week’s Liturgy of the Word, God is reminding us to set our sights on our end goal, our destination: which is the glory and grandeur of His kingdom at the end of our lives. Now how are we supposed to reach there? What is the path we must take?
The First Reading points us to the Word of God as a source of guidance and likens it to rain which nourishes the Earth. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) God’s Word fulfils His will for us; to help us “bear and sprout”. (Isaiah 55:10) Just as His Word alone created the Universe and everything in it, so will it bring about the salvation promised to us, the children of God, provided we don’t shut God out of our lives. We have been gifted with this wealth of knowledge in the Bible that many in the world are searching aimlessly for, but are we making full use of it? How many of us turn to the Bible for direction when we are lost instead of going to the world for answers? Do we believe that the ways of God are not our ways? (Isaiah 55:8) Even if your answer to that question is a confident “Yes, I do!”, do you know anyone who has not embraced the Word of God? The Parable of the Sower beautifully classifies these different groups of people for us to reflect on. In this parable, God is represented by the sower, and the seeds represent us. The Gospel further elaborates on the different situations in detail. Which group do you identify with?
For some, we may hear the Word of God regularly when attending daily Eucharist, or when attending bible classes, but is there an understanding of what God is trying to say? Do we just hear the sound that is spoken but not understand the meaning of the words? Does our faith in God waiver when we are struggling in life? For another group, we may like to go for retreat after retreat because it makes us feel good and alive, but do we take this energy and delve into a deeper relationship with God? Are we easily disheartened and give up trying when we enter a dry patch in our faith life? There is also another group who is aware of the teachings of God but are too caught up in worldly affairs and do not have time to internalise or act on it.
As for the last group, the people’s hearts are opened because they understand what they hear. They have been blessed with eyes that see, and ears that hear. (Matthew 13:16-17) Not only that, they have an active community that nourishes one another and everyone there grows, matures, and bears much fruits. It is evident here that the environment is a major contributing factor in growing our faith. Like how having rich soil helps a seed grow healthily, having a vibrant community helps our faith grow stronger.
However, not all is lost for the seeds that fall in less than ideal conditions. For those who have been blessed, more will be given (Matthew 13:12). We are called to help others with what we have received. This is ever more crucial now. With the suspension of the Eucharist for the past 3 months (and counting), it is without a doubt that there are many Catholics who have lapsed in their faith. We need to work harder than before to ripen the fruits that we have, so that we can disperse the seeds of faith, hope and truth to others around us.
For us to really hear the voice of God, our hearts must be ready to welcome Him. We must want to change and force our way into action, to resurrect our desire to listen and let His Word dwell in our hearts. Whichever group you may fall under, God just wants us. He reassures us in the Second Reading that we are subject to futility, not of our own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that we would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20) He even goes on to say, “not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23) Whatever “sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us”. (Romans 8:18)
Let us hold this assurance from God close to our hearts and grow into majestic trees that are unwavering in whatever storms this World throws at us!
Written by William Song and Nicholas Chua