On the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we find out from Jesus that, as Sower, the Father is one of the worst farmers around. His wasteful clumsiness is due to his infinite love for all his children; he scatters his seed even in the most improbable, unsuited spots such as on a busy trail, rocky ground, and thorn bushes. Nobody can ever accuse God of being less than insanely generous in his sowing!
Since Jesus has the same heart of the Father in heaven, we learn that he desires ardently to keep us in the number of his disciples and away from deadly obduracy and hardening of the heart. To this end, it is most beneficial to keep in mind that Jesus is God’s Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. (John 1:1-3)
Therefore, I imagine Jesus gazing, with infinite love, upon all of us, but with sadness in his voice as he mentions the dreadful possibility that some could be so foolishly obstinate as to make conversion impossible (barring a miracle) and frequently turning down his repeated offers of healing. Here is a first consideration about the size of this tragedy engendered by the hardening of one’s heart: The dismissal of the immense power of God’s Word.
So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Guns can jam; even very reliable cars can break down; the most groundbreaking cures cannot save every sick person. But God’s Word never fails because God cannot fail in his power, care, and love. The certainty of the Word’s power and efficacy is comparable to the one of rain and snow. Without exception, rain and snow affect every square inch of earth upon which they fall (cf. Isaiah 55: 10-11).
This passage on which we are reflecting creates in us the pressing need to ascertain if we can reasonably consider ourselves as being truly within the circle of Jesus’ disciples. Just the thought that we might be slowly drifting away from him, away from the circle of his disciples, to blend into the amorphous, faceless crowd, should horrify us deeply. We should be horrified because, at least occasionally, whenever distracted or absentminded, we might approach God’s Word (Jesus himself) as we would approach a particular article in a newspaper or on the Internet.
Broadly speaking, in our western world, the sacred has been gutted out from people’s daily life without realizing the enormity of the peril to which we become exposed. I am afraid that we, too, might handle the Holy Scripture with only the thinnest reverence, much less than we would have while approaching a rare manuscript.
As genuine disciples of Jesus, we must be ready to be completely engaged with the second Person of the Holy Trinity (Jesus) whenever we open the Bible in the privacy of our home, or we listen to it proclaimed in God’s house, in the community of Jesus’ disciples. As Word of God, Jesus should occupy our mind and heart as intensely as persons in love have their minds and hearts dominated by the thought of their beloved.
Then they (the disciples on the way to Emmaus) said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
If we are genuine disciples of Jesus, we must know what can truly set our hearts ablaze; hence, we would see the need to build up expectation throughout the week for our encounter with him, here in church. Could we imagine meeting anyone more powerful, more caring, more loving, and more engaging than Jesus? If we truly can’t wait to hear what Jesus has to say, as it is tailor-made exactly for each one of us, would we run the risk of arriving here late after part of the readings has already been proclaimed?
By now, we begin to see how easy it would be to slide into indifference to and obduracy towards God’s Word by reacting to it as if it were like the zillions of mostly hollow words that strike our senses if our love for Jesus has become lukewarm. May the Holy Spirit assist us as we re-till the soil in our heart hardened by repeated yielding to temptations; remove the rocks of trials which we allowed to overwhelm us; uproot the thorn bushes of worldly anxieties so that our soil may bear quality fruit and yield as much as we can possibly yield by being most generous in responding to our God’s grace-filled overtures.