"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)
When I was a little kid in grade school, we would play a game called Four Corners. Now if you recall, the object of the game is to pick a corner of the room, a person would call out one of those corners, and if that person called out your corner, you would be out. The last person standing would win. The other day when I was praying over these readings, I don't know why this game came to mind. I mean I even had to look up the rules, simple as they are, on Google because I had forgotten them. I guess the reason why this game came to me was because of the number four. We have four different types of soil presented to us in today's gospel, and we each fall under one of those categories. But upon further meditation I realized that much like the game, we are constantly trying to out run God who is seeking us out, calling out our names, and trying to bring us close to Him. The first reading tells us that the word from his mouth shall do his will, yet we still try to circumvent God's intentions and fail to be the good soil that is receptive to the seed of God's word.
As we seek to be receptive God's word, let us go deeper into the words of Christ in today's gospel:
1) The first type of soil our Lord mentions isn't really soil at all. It is the path where seeds will be snatched up. Our Lord tells us that this is the person that does not understand the word of God and the evil one comes and snatches up the seed placed in our hearts. As Catholics, we need to be more proactive in understanding our faith. There's a famous saying in Spanish that says "an ignorant Catholic is a future Protestant" (un católico ignorante es un futuro protestante). Nothing against our Protestant brothers and sisters, but if we truly understood the beauties of our Catholic faith, if we fell in love with the mystery of the Eucharist, if we understood the graces that flow from the sacraments, we would not turn our backs on God or the Church when things don't break our way.
2) The second type of soil is rocky ground. This is someone who receives the word with great joy, but since it is rocky ground there is little soil and that seed can't take root. So at the first sign of trouble that joy disappears and so does the person. I call this "The Emmaus Syndrome." (Yup, pay attention Emmaus brothers and sister, I'm about to pick on you.) In our Church, of which I am a part of, we have many retreats, like Emmaus, which lift the souls of the people who attend and fill them with great joy. Unfortunately, as a Church, we do a lousy job of nuturing that joy after the retreat. The person's joy cannot root itself firmly on the ground, and at the first sign of tribulation, that person feels abandoned and just leaves. We have to nurture the seeds we plant, but more importantly, we must till the soil we plant them on or else we are just throwing the seeds on rocky ground. If you're a diehard Emmaus person, and I offended you...good! It means I struck a nerve, and I point the finger at myself as well. Emmaus and other retreats have done a phenomenal job of bringing people to the risen Christ. We just have to keep them there.
3) The third type of soil is among the thorns. This is the person who receives the word but is lured away and the word is choked of by the things of this world. I've been very busy since I arrived at St. Gregory ten days ago. But in my moments of free time, I've been obsessed with getting our internet and cable working in the rectory. I quickly realized the first nights that I was here with none of these worldly luxuries that it was preventing me from time better spent on prayer. The things of the world aren't bad, but they are material, transitory, and must be used in a balanced way. Yes, I got the cable and internet up and running this past Friday, but have found that I am using them less. I cannot bear fruit as a priest if I am consumed by the things of this world, and this applies to all of us who are called, as the first reading tells us, to take the word we have received and return it to God with interest so to speak.
4) Finally, we have the rich soil. Not much to explain here. This is what we aspire to in order to produce fruit for our Lord. A good farmer prepares his soil before he plants his seeds. He makes sure there are no rocks, thorns, and are away from the path. What do we have to till away from our lives in order to be rich soil?
Just like in the game Four Corners, God is calling us out today. He wants us to be rich soil so that we can be receptive to his word and bear the fruit that he desires. Yet we run from him like in the game and choose not to be better informed about our faith or go deeper so that it can take root or get distracted by the things of this earth. Ultimately, we are responsible for our soil. At the end of the Four Corners game, there is only one person left with the person who is calling out. One day that will be you and God. What fruit will you present him with the seed he has planted in your heart?