EXODUS 20: 1 – 17
In those days: God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. “You shall not kill.” “You shall not commit adultery.” “You shall not steal.” “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 19: 8 – 11 (R.) John 6: 68c
R/. Lord, you have the words of eternal life.
The law of the Lord is perfect;
It revives the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are steadfast;
they give wisdom to the simple. R.
The precepts of the Lord are right;
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
it gives light to the eyes. R.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The judgements of the Lord are true;
they are, all of them, just. R.
They are more to be desired than gold,
than quantities of gold.
And sweeter are they than honey,
than honey flowing from the comb. R.
Luke 8: 15
Blessed are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.
MATTHEW 13: 18 – 23
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no foot in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundred fold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
REFLECTION: Bearing Good Fruit One Hundredfold
July 23, 2021
“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.” (Matthew 13:22–23)
Today, Jesus clarifies for His disciples the meaning of His parable told to the crowds. He explains the meaning of the seed sown on the path, on the rocky ground, among the thorns and on the rich soil. Quoted above are the last two of those explanations. When we look carefully at the meaning of the seed sown into the rich soil, we see that these are those who hear, understand and bear fruit. And the fruit that is born is in varying degrees. One thing that this parable tells us is that hearing and even understanding the Word of God is not enough. There are many temptations we will face that will hinder God’s Word in our lives. Let’s briefly consider each.
First, there are many people who have been blessed to hear the Word of God. There are many who have been to religious education classes, have been taught by parents and others, have attended Church services but have failed to allow what they have heard to penetrate deeply to the point that they understand. To hear the Word of God is very different from understanding the Word of God. One reason for this is that the pure Word of God, when heard and understood, challenges us to the core of our being. If one truly understands God’s Word, then that person cannot remain indifferent. They must change. And they must change in a complete way. Failure to do so means that it is impossible for good fruit to be born in their life to the degree God wants.
But understanding and changing is not even enough. This is because the enemies of our soul, traditionally spoken of as the world, the flesh, and the devil, will powerfully attack any person who receives the Word of God and decides to abide by that Word. For example, if you were to fully accept the teachings of Jesus regarding forgiveness of others, as soon as you make the choice to forgive, there would most likely be numerous temptations to abandon that practice. Pride, anger, hurt, the lies of the evil one and the world will all try to deter you from an act of complete forgiveness of others. Or take, for example, the call to live completely detached from “riches.” Jesus’ teachings on true spiritual poverty versus true spiritual riches require a depth of conversion that is difficult to obtain. Thus, the “lure of riches” is very hard to overcome.
In the end, if your soul is truly fertile ground and if you allow the most pure and complete teaching of the Gospel to penetrate your soul so as to change you in every way God wants to change you, then this means that you have overcome each and every temptation thrown at you. You have rejected the temptations that come from greed, pride, anger and the like. You have embraced humility, rejected worldly esteem, dismissed anxiety and worry and are directed only by the powerful, gentle, holy, and clear Voice of God in your life. This requires much prayer, much interior purification, total dedication and unwavering obedience to the Word of God spoken to you both through the Gospels and in the depths of your conscience. And even among those who achieve this level of holiness, the fruit born in their lives is dependent upon how fully and habitually they live by the guiding Word of God.
Reflect, today, upon this high calling from our Lord. Achieving the goal of having exceptionally rich soil in your heart for the Word of God requires unyielding commitment and determination. There are numerous temptations that will fight against the creation of a fertile heart. Try to look at your own heart today. Be honest. How fertile is it? Does the Word of God grow there? And if so, does it grow to superabundance? Commit yourself to the goal of becoming that rich soil in which the Word of God is sown that not only bears good fruit but bears good fruit that is a hundredfold.
My demanding Lord, You desire that every soul of every person You have created become the most pure and most fertile ground in which the seed of Your Word can grow and produce fruit in superabundance. Please help me to commit myself to this radical depth of holiness, dear Lord. My life is Yours. Please purify me, change me, mold me and prod