Live in patient hope

by Shiu Lan

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, we hear that Jesus teaches the great crowds, who gathered around him, with the Parable of the Sower: The seeds fall on the path, on rocky ground and among thorns. These seeds do not develop either because they have been eaten by the birds; or the roots cannot thrive in the shallow soil of the rocky ground; or the seedlings are choked by the growing thorns. Even among those seeds that fall on good soil in the field, the yield of crops varies from a hundredfold, to around sixty and thirty (Ref Mt 13: 4-8).

Jesus explains to his disciples privately the meaning of the parable. What is sown on the path are word sown in the heart but not understood, therefore snatched away by the evil one. What is sown on rocky ground are the word received with instant joy but because the heart is dull, it fails to take root so that when tribulation arises on account of the word, the faith is short lived. What is sown among thorns are word that are choked by the cares of the world and the lures of wealth. What is sown on good soil are word that are heard with an understanding heart that bears fruits. (Ref Mt 13: 19-23).

Jesus only explains the full meaning of the parable and reveals divine mysteries to his inner circle of disciples who accept him with faith. Parables also conceal the divine mysteries from the unworthy and serve as a judgement on the faithless. Jesus shifts from straight forward teachings of the word to parables after he heals the man with the withered hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Right after this works of mercy, Jesus is rejected by the Pharisees who conspire against him and plan to destroy him (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, commentary on Mt 12:9, 13:3, 11).

Jesus is sharing with us the full meaning of the parable now; we are among the privileged who have been “given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 13:11)! How blessed are we! Then, how must we live so that we can produce a crop in abundance?

St Paul’s advice in the second reading gives us some clue, we must “no longer live according to [the flesh]” (Rm 8:12). “All those who walk in the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God” who will share the inheritance of God with Christ; “if we now suffer with him, we will also share glory with him” (14, 17). Suffering is but part of God’s plan to mold us into the image of Christ (ICSB commentary on 8:18-25). St Paul contends that even our heaviest burdens of suffering on our earthly journey is insignificant relative to the glory that awaits us (Ref 18). We cannot escape afflictions here on earth, yet the Holy Spirit helps to make them bearable, “We are weak, but the Spirit comes to help us“ (26).

This Sunday, let us pray to the Holy Spirit for empowerment so that we can live in “patient hope” and remain faithful to our Lord despite things we do not see or hear or understand during every moment of our time in this world (25)!