Matthew 13:1-9, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
If we find in the Bible a prodigal son, one theologian says, there also is a prodigal sower. By prodigal here is meant wasteful and indiscriminate. In the Gospel for today, God is presented as a prodigal giver, as one who is “reckless” in his manner of giving.
Indeed, we have here in this parable, an affirmation of the nature of God – that he is one who gives without measure, that he is one who gives his all, even his own self.
In the face of this “wasteful” giver, the parable also mirrors to us the nature of the recipient. If God is the prodigal sower, we are the ambivalent soil. The certitude of God’s love is countered by the uncertainty of our response.
What are the reasons for our ambivalence? Why can’t God’s word take root in us?
We can mention at least two reasons. The first is lack of understanding. The message of God is easily stolen by the evil one because it is not understood. When something is not understood, it collapses into irrelevance.
What comes to mind are people saying all sorts of criticism against religion, against the faith or against a particular religious practice. When examined from an objective point of view, the criticisms are often born out of ignorance rather than enlightened opinion. From experience we know that people who do not understand are usually the first to complain.
The lack of understanding leads to a lack of depth. Shallow creeks carry noisy water.
Who is there to blame? The fault partly falls on those who are supposed to teach. Perhaps the teachers are not diligent or good enough. Perhaps some of them humiliate rather than inspire, condemn rather than counsel. Some are even outright abusive and rude. One time I came across a quote that goes, “People do not care about what you know unless they know that you care”.
In part, the fault also falls on people who refuse to listen or to mind at all. Some are either too lazy or too proud, or both. There are seminars, formation programs, inputs and retreats but people do not go. Our pastoral centers are almost empty in comparison to the brimming and bustling malls.
The other reason is excessive anxiety. The message of God is welcomed with joy but in the ensuing days the worries of the world overwhelm the heart and flush the message away.
What comes to mind is Bo Sanchez and his preaching on the utter uselessness of worrying. He says, “To worry is to focus on the things you cannot control”. Research allegedly shows that 40% of what people worry about pertain to the future and do not even happen at all, and 30% focus on something which took place in the past. 12% of our worries center on exaggerated or unrealistic health issues while 10% on our petty concerns. Of all the things we worry about, only 8% are actually legitimate.
Worry therefore is mostly useless. It cannot change the past, it cannot control the future. It only chokes the message of God and messes up the present.
The good news however continues to stand: God’s extravagant loving. It clings tenaciously to us and never lets go despite our ambivalence, even in our ignorance and false pride, amid our senseless anxiety and restlessness.
In this mass we pray for the grace of active receptivity. We ask that God’s prodigal giving may bear fruit in us.
[Photo credits: Google]