THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for January 29th, 2014
Liturgical texts here
I find this one of the most challenging of all the Gospel parables, for I see myself in one soil or the other. How often does the Lord speak a word in my heart… and then I soon forget it! How often does the mercy and consolation of the Spirit bring me joy, and then the slightest trial throws me into confusion again. How often do worries and concerns of this world carry me away from the reality that God always carries me in the palm of His hand… Ah, cursed forgetfulness!
But today’s first reading and Psalm provide a consolation for the inconsolable. They speak of a promise. And the promise is this:
Forever I will maintain my love for him; my covenant with him stands firm. I will establish his dynasty forever, his throne as the days of the heavens. (Psalm 89)
The covenant of the Father, the Kingdom, through Christ Jesus, is established forever. And to us, Jesus says, “The Mystery of the Kingdom has been granted to you.” Who are the “you” He is speaking of? It is those who have looked and seen, have heard and understood, and have begun the process of conversion. The promise is that God is not going anywhere, that forever He will maintain His love for us too.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
You might ask, “But I am always failing, always the poor soil! How then can you say that I see?” The fact that you know you are failing tells me that you see, and you see clearly! Blessed are you who see your need; most blessed are you who know where to turn in your need: to Jesus. You see, this too is a “word” sown on the path, the Word that says “Come back to me.” If you hear this and listen, then know that you possess the Word, and that you are not lost:
Whoever possesses the Son has life. (1 John 5:12)
Because you fail from time to time out of weakness or neglect does not mean that the whole field of your heart is bad. It means you have a little patch here, a little area there of your heart that needs deeper conversion, more water, a little more light, a little more love and air. And yes, we should take this seriously, calmly and deliberately pulling out the weeds as they come up. But do not despair! The farmer who fails is the one who neglects the weeds, not the one who tends to them.
Above all, do not harden your heart. The hardened heart is the one who does not want to see or hear anymore; the one who hates the light, because it exposes the darkness; the one whom even the most sweet, most compelling, most merciful word cannot penetrate. Commenting on today’s Gospel, Dr. Scott Hahn writes:
As a result of persistent rebellion, Israel became blind and deaf to the warnings of the prophets. Isaiah’s mission was a dreadful one of preaching judgment upon his wayward generation until destruction and exile would overtake all but a holy remnant of the people. —Dr. Scott Hahn, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, “The Gospel of Mark”, pp.24-25
Don’t fall into the trap of unhealthy introspection and self-pity, but thank God that you are saved by His love, that you see your faults, and you hear His love and mercy once again. Thank Him that you are part of His remnant. Ask Him to help you spread the seed of the Good News to others so that the remnant may grow and grow and begin to enclose the whole world.
If you can even “see” and “hear” what I am saying, and begin to pray in this way, you are already bearing “fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
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