The Heart of the Gospel – Mark Aloysius, SJ

Matthew 13:-19; 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the film Inception, a team of skilled thieves, who steal corporate secrets through entering the dreams of others, are given the task of planting an idea in the mind of an heir of a major corporation. The idea that they are tasked to plant is to dissolve the corporation he is to inherit after the death of his father. In a memorable scene where two of them, Dom and Eames, discuss the possibility of inception, Eames says that that idea is too complex for it to take root and grow naturally in the subject’s mind. For inception to take place, what is needed is the simplest version of the idea; in this case, the relationship of the heir with his father.

All our readings today talk about how the seed of God’s Word might take root in our hearts and grow. Allow me to summarise what I think are the three characteristics of the Word and our engagement with it, which allow for the Word to become more and more a part of us. Those three characteristics are: simple, deep & sustained.

First of all, the Word that we receive is simple. Pope Francis in the Joy of the Gospel says that the basic Christian proclamation is this: Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you (EG 164). This is the kerygma, or proclamation, that all of our Christian believing, doing and hoping is centred upon. Though this sounds simple, I think it is not necessarily an easy message to learn. There is this drive in us to clutter and complicate matters for ourselves and others. In our church do we not argue about so many things that really are not that important for salvation — should we receive communion on the tongue or on our hands, should the priest face the congregation or the East? We waste our breath on what is non-essential. Thus, it takes a lifetime to learn the simple truth that God loves us intimately, for we are often convinced that we are unlovable. It takes a lifetime to learn that God is with us at every moment, never abandoning us. Indeed, all of our lives is a pilgrimage to enter more deeply into this simple, saving truth.

Secondly, we need to allow the Word of God to go deep in us. Jesus says that without depth, the Word cannot take root. We must open up that interior space within ourselves to God. Or perhaps we must allow God’s Word, which Isaiah says is efficacious — the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do — to open up that space of depth within us. Again this is not easy, for there is a tendency in us towards superficiality. How often do we dare talk with one another about what goes on within us, and choose instead to gossip about one another or perhaps to talk about the weather? Often we are terrified of facing the truth that lies in us, afraid of showing our hearts to one another. 

Thirdly, our engagement with the Word of God must be something sustained. It is not enough to pray occasionally. Jesus warns us that there are thorns that may choke his Word. Again, we know that a sustained encounter with the Word is not so easy for there is a tendency in us to give up easily. We might learn to seek God seriously for a while, but then we get distracted and discouraged. I find it consoling to to be reminded in our second reading that we are not alone in our search for God. St Paul says that the whole creation is eagerly waiting for God. Perhaps, then, we learn to seek God unceasingly when we listen to the prayer that is in the heart of every human person, the prayer that is in our entire cosmos.

How connected are you to the simple truth that God loves you, saves you and is always with you?

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