Is 55:10-11; Rom 8:18-23; Matt 13:1-23
In the Gospel today we see that God is a prodigal sower; he scatters seed widely, hoping for a fruitful result. The question for us is: do we cooperate with God’s wide and abundant sowing? You and I want to be good soil. We don’t want to be rocky or shallow soil. We do not intend to be anyway. Our problem is that we are busy. We do get preoccupied by the demands of the world. And we do worry. At least I do.
We Americans are a people filled with anxiety and stress. According to NPR we are the most stressed as a people, as a nation, than we have ever been. This is due to violent images presented to us in the media and continually replayed before our eyes. This began in 1995 with the Oklahoma City bombing, continued through September 11, 2001, up to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. According to the NPR report, if we don’t limit our exposure to such images, we get stressed, anxious. In spiritual terms, we can easily forget that there is a God and that God is there.
One definition of sin is forgetfulness. Stress makes us forget who we are. We forget whose we are in the midst of the demands of the world –- what Newman called “the fever of the world.” Our lives become so stressed along the rocky road, we forget that to which we are called and the hope that is within us. This is a good definition of anxiety.
How do we remember? We come here every week to hear the Word, receive the Body and Blood of the Lord and be strengthened by the assembled community. We come to remember who we are. In this way, our soil is watered and the seed that we are is fertilized – and does not return to God void.
We are also fertilized and irrigated by recreational activities that cause us to wonder, especially in summer at the beauty in God’s natural world. Our friends and family do this for us, too. All of these can fertilize and irrigate us if we take the time to open ourselves and be receptive soil. All these can counteract anxiety and the stress anxiety causes. We replace stressful images – like those we see on CNN – with peaceful and calming ones. Remember Peter Pan: “Think lovely thoughts.” Psychologists can this behavioral therapy or behavioral modification or guided imagery. It’s part of cooperation with God – grace working through nature. The soil of our souls can become more fertile. We pray that we might be fertile soil, for ourselves and for others. If we cooperate with God, we will be renewed for ourselves and for the life of the world. We may cause others to bear greater fruit as well.