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Friday – Sixteenth Week – OT2
Readings: Jer 3:14-17; Mt 13:18-23.
Reading 1 (Jer 3:14-17):
Return, rebellious children, says the LORD,
for I am your Master;
I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan,
and bring you to Zion.
I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart,
who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.
When you multiply and become fruitful in the land,
says the LORD,
They will in those days no longer say,
“The ark of the covenant of the LORD!”
They will no longer think of it, or remember it,
or miss it, or make another.
At that time they will call Jerusalem the LORD’s throne;
there all nations will be gathered together
to honor the name of the LORD at Jerusalem,
and they will walk no longer in their hardhearted wickedness.
Gospel (Mt 13:18-23):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: We must prepare ourselves for God’s word to bear fruits.
Even there are seeds and sowers, there is still another factor which is needed for seeds to bear fruits is the land where seeds are sown to. If the land is mostly rocky ground, thorns and thistles, the seeds can’t bear fruits; but if the land was ploughed and clear of all stones, thorns and thistles, the seeds shall give their maximum potential. Similarity to God’s words, the determining factor for God’s words to bear fruits is human mind. If God’s words are sown in the prepared mind, they shall grow and help that person to bear fruits as God’s desire; but if they are sown in hard and indifferent minds, they can’t give a good result.
Today readings give us some examples about the effects of God’s words. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah called out to the Israelites so that they could repent and return. If they do that, even only a remnant, God shall lead them back. They shall re-establish their country and rebuild the temple which were destroyed. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly explained four different lands which God’s words are sowned to, and gave reason about their effects.
1/ Reading I: All nations will be gathered together to honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem.
1.1/ The remnant shall be cared by good shepherds: Even during the time of exile, God still continually sent His prophets, such as: Isaiah II, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Sophoniah, Nahum, etc. His purpose was to give them hope. Today passage is considered Jeremiah’s words for the people in exile. He told them that if they repent and return, God shall change their fate: “Return, rebellious children, says the Lord, for I am your Master; I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan, and bring you to Zion.”
Once they return to their country, they shall no longer be governed by bad leaders, but by leaders who understand and revere God, “I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.” Two characters, understand (dơat) and wisdom (sakal), are very important for God’s spiritual leaders. When they have these characters, the leaders shall be humble to recognize God’s power and to guide people according to God’s decrees so that God shall love, care for and protect His people.
1.2/ At that time they will call Jerusalem the Lord’s throne: Even there is only a remnant compared to a big number of people before the exile; but with time, this remnant shall increase and develop. The effects of God’s words don’t depend on a mixed population, but shall greatly develop by a remnant who put their complete trust in God.
The passage also mentioned the passing of the Ark: “They will no longer think of it, or remember it, or miss it, or make another.” The Ark represents God’s presence with people. When the Messiah shall come, he is the Emmanuel, God-is-with-us. This is the reason why Jeremiah forsaw that the Ark shall no longer be needed.
Jeremiah also foresaw the increase of Jerusalem. It shall not be confined only to the Judahites, but a center for all the Israelites as king David’s time. Moreover, it is also the center for all nations of the world to see: “At that time they will call Jerusalem the Lord’s throne; there all nations will be gathered together to honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem.” When people shall be taught and care for by God Himself, “they will walk no longer in their hardhearted wickedness.” This is the main point of Jeremiah’s message: God shall establish a new covenant which is based on love (Jer 31:31-34).
2/ Gospel: The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it.
As a farmer prepares his land by ploughing for the soil to loose, by taking out of stony soil, thorns and thistles, by leveling the soil, watering and fertilizing it; people must also prepare their mind by spending some time in silence to eliminate all noisiness and worriness of life, by praying to the Holy Spirit so that he shall enlighten their mind and help them to understand God’s words. Jesus gave four concrete cases of those who listen to God’s words and their corresponding results.
(1) Along the sidewalk: Jesus explained: “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.” These are people who have an insulted or indifferent attitude to God’s words. For examples, those who go to Mass just in order to fulfill the law. They come to Mass when God’s words had been proclaimed; they go out to smoke or to talk with others, they sleep or let their mind wander all places when the priest explains God’s words; they never attend the parish’s retreat or study God’s words. With such an insulted attitude, how could God’s words be in their mind and benefit them?
(2) In the stony ground: Jesus explained: “The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.” These are people who pay attention and hear God’s words, but don’t spend more time to learn, to meditate and to deepen God’s words. They spent much time for entertaining, talking or reading useless magazines or watching TV or romantic films; but always complain that thay have no time to learn or God’s words are hard to understand! If they don’t try, how can they understand God’s words and apply them in their life to benefit them?
(3) In thorny bushes: Jesus explained: “The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.” These are people who only concern or pay attention too much to the importance of material life. They put material gains above God’s love and the understanding of God’s words. They choose to attend who does the shortest Mass, the most convenient time and place for Mass even though they don’t understand God’s words or the sermon, so that they have more time to work or to entertain. These are also those who value material things above love for others; they aren’t dare to sacrifice material gains in order to witness for God’s words.
(4) In good soil: “But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” These are those who always put God above all things. They desire to learn God’s words and put them into practice. They know how to prepare their mind by reading and meditating God’s words before they come to the church to attend Mass. Moreover, they always find opportunities to study more and to put God’s words in practice in all situations of life. It isn’t surprise when they advance in all aspects of life: spiritual, intellectual, psychological and human.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Preparation of our mind is the first condition for God’s words to bear fruits. We should never listen or study God’s words without a preparation. Moreover, we shouldn’t let God’s words be suffocated by worldly worriness and calculation.