Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Parable of the Sower

While going through the parable of the sower (Mk 4:1-20), I always assumed myself to be in the category of the seeds that fall on the good soil. The only question was whether I produced a yield of 30, 60 or 100. I always knew it for sure that it was anything but 100, and therefore prayed for the grace to bear a bountiful fruit of 100.

Going through the passage once again this morning, I was somehow stuck by the realization that how terribly wrong I had been all these years, how sadly mistaken. May the good Lord forgive me my ignorant self-righteousness.

All these years, while I slogged on to improve my 30s to 60s and 100s, I failed to notice that on many occasions I had, in fact, been the seed that fell on the path, and on several occasions, the seed that fell on the rocky ground, and on still others, the one that fell among the thorny bush.

I would listen to the word keenly, but sometimes dismiss them as though not applying to me. Sometimes, I may even look around at other people, thinking if only they would listen and understand. Well, I am not exactly judgmental, but sometimes some words bring to our minds some memories and hurt feelings, and then we tend to apply to those memories what we hear.

It saddened me how, in spite of the clear examples and categorical statements by the Lord, some people just won’t get it. The world would be a much better place to live in and so many of us would be so much happier, if these people just for once understood these things – or such were my haughty, Pharisee-like thoughts at least.

But now, I have come to the realization that it really is none of my business how other people think, act or speak the way they do. My business is to listen to the Word, understand it, remember it and apply it to my life. My business is to humbly receive the Word, and pray for the wisdom to understand it and the grace to remember and apply it to my life. (Mt 7:1-28)

By letting the Word slide away without letting it touch my soul, I let the bird take it away from me, while nastily letting my thoughts go astray and assess others. How really disdainful it is that the Word of God is so casually used to criticize and condemn others, while using it mask over our own frailties and inequities.

Then again on other occasions I would be like the seed that fell on the rocky ground. I would happily receive the Word, thank the Lord and rejoice. I would be decisive and determined, and put in efforts to keep the Word. But as soon as I hit a tight spot, every ounce of determination I had in me would be thrown aside and I would revert back to being the same old person I used to be. 

What was I thinking? That it would be easy? Did Jesus ever promise it to be easy? Did He say that it was going to be a cakewalk?

No. In fact, He promised us crosses, troubles and persecutions if we choose to follow Him (Mk 8:24, Mt 24:9, Jn 15:20). True, He promises us rest, an easy yoke and a lighter burden (Mt 11:28-30). But we need to carry our burdens to Him and His grace will make it easier for us to carry on. Surely, that explains why so many saints and martyrs simply cheered and beamed and exulted in the Lord in the face of (seeming) tragedies and atrocities, sufferings and persecutions, trials and tribulations. Seeming, because the troubles of this world would bring them greater and bigger glories in the next.

Yet again on many occasions I would be the seed among the thorny bush. I would try to grow and thrive in faith, rejoicing in the Lord and His immense goodness. But then the cares of the world – the rules and mannerisms of the world, the social protocols and the peer pressure (one needs to go with the tide, you know) – come in the way of the flourishing faith and block the flow of grace; not to mention the myriad attractions towards all the vane things in life (oh, I have got to get that fabulous new dress, it’s so pretty!) and the endless desire to always have more than what is strictly necessary.

In the constant effort to improve myself and answer to the challenging call to be a true Christian, I have had some successes. I have had my share of 30s, 60s and, at times, even 100s – not by my merit, but by God’s grace of course. But more often than not, I have failed. How many times have I let down the Lord and how times has the merciful Lord forgiven me. But what would be sadder than committing a sin would be to commit it and not see it at all. What would be sadder than trying and failing is the lack of will to try again after failures, or worse still, not try at all.

The ability to see and the resolve to constantly get better, granted to me by the Lord, makes me exceedingly thankful to the boundless mercy and the infinite goodness that the Lord is. The Lord’s love and patience (Lk 15:1-32) gives me the hope and courage in my pursuit towards a better Christian life each day. Yes, I trip and fall many times; but I also take courage and get up with my eyes set on the holy cross of the Lord and His rod and staff being my courage.

This post has been written in the first person, but I know it speaks of most of us as it speaks of me. Let us pray for the grace to be ever vigilant and have the sight to see and perceive.

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