21st Sunday after Pentecost

Gal 2,16-20
Lk 8,5-15

Why did Jesus talk in parables so much? What He says here is He does it so that the people wouldn’t grasp the full meaning. It’s actually a form of His mercy, believe it or not.

You see, He tells us “To whom much is given, much is required”. That implies that the full meaning is not required of those who don’t grasp it. Or those who CAN’T grasp it. He doesn’t expect as much of them as He does to whom he’s given much.

And to whom has he given much? Us. As Catholics, we hold that faith which Jude tells us was “was once for all delivered to the saints”. Jesus told the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. Our Faith stands in a direct line from the Apostles. So Jesus requires more of us, but, at the same time, He’s given us both the knowledge and the grace necessary.

In this parable, he tells us the four types of people who will hear the teaching of the faith.

Some will hear the truth, but it never really takes root. They may come to church as children, but when they become adults, they drop out. Or, to keep some family members happy, maybe they’ll come on Easter and Christmas. We can say that they’re either unbelieving or just apathetic.

Some might hear it and accept it. They’re excited for a time, but then they lose the fire. They get wrapped up in their own interests. They’re not selfish, but they’re self-focused.

Life can be tough. Some people will hear the truth, but start worrying about the things in life, about how tough it is. And they lose sight of their faith. They’re overwhelmed.

And then, then there are some who fully embrace the truth, and they live it to the fullest, despite what comes their way. Those people have the making of saints. They’re on-fire

Now, please understand, I’m not singling out anyone to say that they’re one type or the other. I think that we’ve all been through periods where we’re one type or the other of these people. Sometimes, more than one type. I know that there have been times where I’ve been each one of these types of “soil”.

Being a Christian, especially a Catholic, isn’t a set of rules and regulations. It’s a love affair; the Church is the Bride of Christ.

St. Catherine of Siena says, “We are of such value to God that he came to live among us … and to guide us home. He will go to any length to seek us, even to being lifted high upon the cross to draw us back to himself. We can only respond by loving God for his love“.

In the Eucharist, in a literal fashion, Christ shares his Body and Blood with us

Just as in the Old Covenant, the Passover Lamb was eaten, so now, in the New Covenant, our Passover Lamb, Christ, is eaten.

Just as in marriage, the man and wife share their bodies, so in the Eucharist, Christ shares his Body with us; not in a lustful, passionate manner; but in love and sacrifice.

And, the Eucharist is not mere food. As the Paschal Communion Antiphon tells us, it is the medicine of Immortality.

But, when we’re injured by sin, He doesn’t let us slink into a corner and just lick our wounds. Instead, in His love, we are given the opportunity to be cleansed of our sins, to have our relationship with Him strengthened and restored. He gives us the Sacrament of Confession.

What does this have to do with the four types of soil?

The first three types keep us from enjoying the love He gives us.

If we are apathetic or unbelieving, we don’t believe that He really loves us. If we’re self-focused, we’re too busy to receive the love. And if we’re overwhelmed, our problems and fears have made us lose sight of His love.

Now, you may think, the soil is the soil; what can be done? With modern agricultural science, otherwise bad soil can be transformed. In the same way, the soil of our souls can be transformed.

The first transformation is attitude. Do you WANT to be good soil?

Next, you have to work. If you have rocks, they have to be broken or removed. If you don’t get enough moisture, you have to water it.

Prayer and study, my friends. The prayer can be set prayers. It can be sitting in front of an icon, praying the Jesus prayer or the Rosary, or meditative reading of Scripture - asking Him what he wants to say - and then listening. And study - scripture or catechism. The way not to be swept away by the birds eating up the seed is to know the truth.

Yes, as Paul tells us, we are saved by faith apart from works of the Law. But he also says to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. And James tells us that faith without works is dead. One way to strengthen your faith through action is the works of mercy - when we start helping others we tend to forget our problems. Then there’s that phrase popularized by our Evangelical friends - “What Would Jesus do”?

My Brothers and Sisters, the choice is yours.

Do you want to respond to God’s love? Ask yourself what kind of soil you are, and make the choice to improve the soil. He’s waiting for you to grow.

(Revised from a previous year)