“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away.
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel parable illustrates a common saying in Jesuit formation: “Compare and despair.”
Even when seeds fall on rich soil, some bear more fruit than others. But Jesus is unconcerned about which seed bears more fruit. He just wants his seeds to bear fruit, whether “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
This is good news for those of us who like to compare ourselves to others. Maybe a classmate is always getting grades a little higher than ours. Maybe a coworker churns out multiple projects in the time it takes us to finish one. But Jesus is not worried about how much fruit we produce. He just wants us to bear as much fruit as we can, using the gifts we have. So try not to compare. Otherwise, “worldly anxiety and the lure of riches” keep us from bearing any fruit at all, and indeed, we begin to despair.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
—Excerpt of the prayer attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw