Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parable of the Sower:
A Year of Faith Reflection

The Sower
Today's Gospel is one we are all quite familiar with - The Parable of the Sower. Mark's depiction is similar to the same account in the 13th Chapter of Matthew which has been called the parabolic discourse because it contains seven different parables. We are about one third of the way through the Year of Faith. We should consider how we are being sowers of the New Evangelization.

Parables of Work
Blessed Pope John Paul II explains how Jesus often uses parables related to everyday, ordinary work to explain the kingdom of God and the mission of the Church:

In His parables on the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ constantly refers to human work: that of the shepherd (e.g. John 10:1-6), the farmer (cf. Mark 12:1-12), the doctor (cf. Luke 4:32), the sower (cf. Mark 4:1-9), the householder (cf. Matthew 13:52), the servant (cf. Matthew 24:25; Luke 12:42-48), the steward (cf. Luke 16:1-8), the fisherman (cf. Matthew 13:47-50), the merchant (cf. Matthew 13:45-46), the laborer (cf. Matthew 20:1-16). He also speaks of the various forms of women's work (cf. Matthew 13:33; Luke 15:8-9). He compares the apostolate to the manual work of harvesters (cf. Matthew 9:37; John 4:35-38) or fishermen (cf. Matthew 4:19). He refers to the work of scholars too (cf. Matthew 13: 52)" (John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, 26).
CCC Commentary
According to the commentary in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (RSV), the parable demonstrates how Christ's message "elicits diverse responses. The condition of the soil in each scenario determines one's reaction to Jesus (CCC 29)." On the flip side of this, the responsive heart "yields an abundant harvest." (CCC 2707)

Learn, Live & Share
This seems to me to be consistent with our focus on Learn, Live and Share. What I mean is that most of us follow this pattern. First encounter Christ through some type of conversion experience. If we are properly disposed, this in turn leads us to seek out spiritual formation. As we are formed in the faith, we are moved to bear fruit, to evangelize. This parallels the experience outlined in Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam: awareness, renewal and dialogue.

Role of the Laity
There are significant implications that can be drawn from this about our role as the laity. The Second Vatican Council explained the laity's role in the mission of the Church to evangelize. The Council was more specific in its discussion of the lay apostolate: "On all Christians therefore is laid the pre-eminent responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all people throughout the world"(Apostolicam Actuositatem, 3).

Our Call to Apostolate
God is counting on us to do our part in bringing others to Christ. This is at the heart of the Church's mission. Practically speaking, it's our mission too. We might have a friend or family member who has fallen away from the Church and is scared to come back. Or maybe they have never stepped foot in a Catholic Church. Perhaps all they need is a kind gesture, an invitation. They need to know that Christ is waiting for them. We don't have to thump them over the head with a Bible or Catechism; we merely need to be their friends and, like St. John the Baptist and St. Andrew, point the way. We can't let our own insecurities get in the way. The fact is our inadequacies don't matter as long as we put our trust in the Holy Spirit. He will do the rest of the work.

Bear Fruit
As we reflect on today's Gospel, we should consider what we are doing to bear fruit. Furthermore, we should also contemplate the ways we can make ourselves more available to God's Word.

I'll close with a thought from St. Josemaria Escriva:"the sower went out to sow, to scatter the seed at all the crossroads of this earth. What a blessed task we have. We have the job of making sure that in all the circumstances of time and place the word of God takes root, springs up and bears fruit." (The Forge, 970)

For further reading: