1) How many of you have been to Zion National Park in Utah?
I’ve been here with my camera and shot some very beautiful pictures. For those of you who haven’t been there yet, put it on your bucket list, once we can travel again. I guarantee you ten “Wow’s!” per mile as you drive or hike through Zion. Nature can be overwhelming.
Did you ever notice how often Jesus referred to nature in his teaching? In today’s gospel Jesus talks about a sower sowing seed. At other times during his ministry he talks about the vine and branches (John 15: 1-2), the fig tree (Matthew 24:32), a mountain and a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), foxes and birds (Luke 8:58), ravens and lilies (Cf. Luke 12:23-28), and wheat bearing fruit (John12:24). Yes, Jesus loved his Father’s creation. And no wonder he did.
Goethe said, “Nature is the living, visible garment of God.”
Dante stated, “Nature is the art of God.”
Emerson asserted, “Beauty is God’s handwriting.”
And Pierre Van Passen declared, “The man who abandons nature has begun to abandon himself.”
When we enjoy creation we give praise to the Creator.
In the parable in our gospel today, a lot of the seed the sower sowed was wasted on poor soil. But “the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears much fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
We want to be rich soil so we can bear much fruit. How do we become rich soil? We start by praising God for the beauty and splendor of creation.
2) Secondly, today’s gospel about the wheat and weeds brought this story:
An old man who was always in his garden was asked by his four-year-old grandson why he loved gardening so much.
“I love it,” he said, “because my garden teaches me so much about life.”
“Like what?” the grandson asked.
“Well, like that good things take time,” said the grandfather. “My garden has taught me how to have patience.”
“Wow,” said the four-year-old with excitement. “I can’t wait until I have patience.” (Bob Gilbert, Bits & Pieces)
Impatience is one of the most commonly confessed sins. Parents lose patience with their children. Adult children lose patience with the elderly parents. Employers lose patience with their employees, and vice-versa. Drivers lose patience on the road…
As for patience with bad situations, we need to remember the wisdom of the centuries, “This too will pass.”
As for patience with people, we need to remember that the only people we have upon this earth are imperfect human beings. That means we all do dumb things at times and need to be patient, understanding and forgiving. And that includes the person in the mirror. St. Francis de Sales said, “Patience is needed with everyone, but first of all with ourselves.”
Being patient helps us be the rich soil Jesus talks about in our gospel.
3) Thirdly, “humus” is the Latin word for earth (a rich and nutrient-filled soil), and it is also the root word for human. It is also the root word for “humility,” for one who is grounded or near to the earth.
A person who is rich soil is a person who is humble.
All we need to do is go out to a dark sky place and gaze at the stars at night. We are so small in size as well as in age. We are like a grain of sand in the Sahara desert. And it is good to know that.
In the letter of St. James, we read, “God resists the proud, but gives his grace to the humble” (James 4:6) Why? Because humble people give thanks. They know, as St. Paul tells us, “What have you that you did not received” (1 Corinthians 4:7)? Everything is gift. So a humble person says, “Thank you.” And a grateful heart will then receive more grace, for he or she gives all the praise to God.
Being a person of praise, of patience, and of humility makes us rich soil. May the word of God continue to bear much fruit throughout all our lives.