Do we have hearts that are ready for the Gospel?
Archbishop Gomez is on vacation this week. The following is adapted from his homily last Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. His column will return next week.
The passage from the Gospel that we heard this morning is the “parable of the sower,” a parable that we know well.
As we know, the “sower” is a farmer who is going out to plant seeds. And as we heard, some of his seeds fell on the pathway that he is walking on. Some of it fell on ground that was filled with rocks and some more of it got tangled up in thorns. And finally, some of the seed fell on good soil and was able to grow.
What Jesus is saying is that this is how it is with the Word of God. With the Gospel, Sacred Scripture.
Jesus is telling us that God’s Word is like a seed that he is planting in the earth. He is not planting his Word in the soil or in the ground. He’s planting his Word in the human heart. In your heart and in my heart.
Jesus wants the Word of his Gospel to take root and grow in our heart.
He’s telling us we have to receive God’s Word and we have to let it grow and bloom — just as a plant or a flower grows and blooms when it is planted in the ground. Jesus wants his Word to grow in us, so that we will bear “good fruits” that will help to make God’s Kingdom grow on earth.
So the question that Jesus wants us to think about today is this: What kind of “ground” do we have in our hearts? Do we have a heart that is ready for the Gospel? Are we really open to what God wants for our lives?
The reality is that sometimes our hearts can be like that hard path in the parable.
Because maybe we are not paying enough attention to our spiritual lives. So we hear the Word of God, we hear the commandment to love one another, but we don’t really let it “sink in.” We don’t let it penetrate us and change us. So we have to ask ourselves whether our heart is like that.
Sometimes, maybe the soil of our hearts can be like the rocky ground that Jesus talks about.
That happens when we are excited and enthusiastic about following Jesus, but then we do not put enough effort into our relationship with God. We don’t pray every day, we don’t make enough effort to try to love and serve God. We have to watch out for this, because it means that the Gospel is not really taking root in our heart.
The other “condition” that Jesus talks about is the thorny ground.
That’s when we get too caught up in the cares of the world. This can happen to all of us. We get too busy, we are worried about many things. We can get too concerned about trying to be comfortable or having more things.
When this happens, it is like the words of Jesus are not really that important anymore. And this really blocks the love of God inside us. So we have to be careful with that too.
So let us today especially ask for that grace— to be always prepared in the best possible way to receive God’s Word in our hearts.
We want to become people who “bear good fruit” for Jesus. We want to be people who are concerned about others, who are concerned about sharing the love of God with others.
One practical suggestion for preparing our hearts to bear good fruit — we should try to be more positive in our lives. We should try harder to have a good attitude and a smile for others.
This seems like just a little thing and it’s something we are already probably doing. But we have to do more of it. And, as we know, it’s not always easy.
We really need to understand that we are children of God. If we remember this, it should make us happy and hopeful.
So this week, let’s try to offer up a small sacrifice — just smiling at some person every day! Saying a kind word to somebody who is going through a difficult situation. Just trying to make life a little better for somebody.
In these little ways, we can make it easier for the Word of God to enter into our hearts and grow.
So let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us with that. So that like her, we can listen to God’s Word and really let it grow in inside of us, in our hearts. So that we can bear good fruits. Fruits of love and mercy for one another.
Archbishop Gomez’s CPA Award-winning book, “Immigration and the Next America,”is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.