All who labor and are burdened are invited to come and learn from Jesus, we heard it said last week. How? We need to hear and understand and welcome His word like good soil receiving seeds sown in order to bear in us the fruits of life (Matthew 13:1-23).
God’s efficacious word
WE are daily subjected to a veritable deluge of words—words of love and wisdom, of joy and inspiration as well as words of untruth and shamelessness, of violence and abuse. What words do we welcome and nurture in our hearts, to verbalize our own feelings and to appropriate for our own intentions? Ultimately for human beings, it is a choice between the Creator’s word and that of the snake. Though man may turn a deaf ear to God’s word, it shall prevail. God’s word does not return void; it does the divine will (Isaiah 55:11). God means what He says, and what He says creates history.
When the Word of God became flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14), God’s irrevocable and most powerful Word was spoken to us, the Word of eternal life and salvation. And as every word is an offering waiting for the hearer’s welcome and understanding, the invitation of Jesus Christ to us is to listen to Him and learn from Him and together with Him to follow the will of God. Unlike the days of old, we are not to harden our hearts but rather to open our ears to hear what we ought to be listening to and so accept the reign of God.
Hindrances and difficulties
Notwithstanding the generous sowing of the word of God’s kingdom, the seed thrown and sown to the four winds to reach every nook and cranny, the result varies. The hungry birds, the rocky soil, the scorching sun, and the chocking brambles are familiar features in most agricultural settings. In describing these obstacles to growth and development, Jesus recognized the difficulties and even human resistance that hinders the establishment of God’s reign. In His own ministry, many rejected His preaching.
The actual experience of the apostolic community interpreted for them the parable of Jesus, as we in our own time must do. The question then as now is why do people not listen to God’s word so that it can bear fruit in them, fruits they themselves need and long for? First, there are those who do not understand at all what is proclaimed to them, meaning they reject it outright. They have ears but hear not. The seeds are picked clean by the birds. Second, we have the abundance of fair-weather and nominal Christians, who initially rejoice at some fascinating elements of the Gospel, cafeteria-type believers who just select what they fancy on the menu, but are turned off by the cross and the imperative of perseverance in hardships and persecutions. The burning sun is simply too much for them, plus the fact that they hardly have roots on their rocky ground—having no developed conscience to see them through the moral struggle. Third, many are those whose intentions are in order, but worldly interests entangle them in a maze of contradictions and futility. The inducement and intoxication of money, power, ambition, and pleasure metamorphose them into lying thieves or masquerading fools. But finally, there are those who hear, receive and live the Word of God.
Alálaong bagá, God’s word is efficacious, transforming those who listen to it with open hearts. The liberality of the sower goes hand in hand with the fecundity of the seed. To reap 30 fold or 100 fold underlines the miraculous, for that is how divine grace works. The reign of God comes as surely and as richly as the hundredfold harvest described. Vital is the disposition of the respondent to God’s word: truthfulness and humility, conversion and continuing trust in the God who speaks to us in spite of our obstructing sinfulness. The indifference, hardness of heart, defection, inconstancy, betrayal and the seeming failure of the word that we witness in others around us can also happen to us personally at different times. We all need to relisten constantly, ponder more deeply, and hear again and again more faithfully God’s word of love and life.
Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on www.dwiz882.com.