Friday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 3:14-17, Matthew 13:18-23
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of God’s willingness to forgive our sins. There is a catch. We must repent and return to Him. We cannot continue living by our own lights. If we are willing to admit our frailty, he will manifest his power to set us free and make us new. Confronted with his frailty, David uttered these memorable words: “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men” (2 Sam. 24:14). Once we cast ourselves into the merciful hands of God, we can experience a change of heart. This prayer attributed to St. Patrick puts it quite nicely. “May the strength of God pilot us, may the wisdom of God instruct us, may the hand of God protect us, may the word of God direct us and always be ours.” Like sheep, we have gone astray. As a good shepherd, the Lord seeks us out until he finds us. God knows each of us by name, he gently places us on his shoulder and carries us home.
When reading the parable about the sower and the seed, it is important to keep in mind that the farmer sowed his seed bountifully. The seed that he sowed was alive wanting to put forth roots. This is affirmed in these beautiful; words taken from the prophet Isaiah. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth And making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Is. 55: 10-11). We must never forget that God’s Word is living and Active (CF. Heb. 4:12). It wants to produce a rich harvest.
Without a change of heart, there can be no seedbed for the Word. Today God is offering us grace to pay attention to those parts of our hearts which are not receptive to the word. Are we willing to acknowledge our powerlessness and allow God’s grace to work in us? Only then will we be able to receive the seed of the Word. Because the Word is a two-edged sword, it can read the thoughts and intents of our hearts and penetrate their rock-hardness. Because he is the source of living water, he can irrigate our arid hearts. Because he is the good shepherd, when we stray from the fold and find ourselves trapped in the brambles of temptation, he seeks us out, binds up our wounds, and carries us close to his heart. No matter how discouraged we may become, let us never forget that what is impossible for us on a human plain is always possible for God. Giver of all gifts, work with us to enable us to receive what you desire to plant in us, that we might love and give ourselves away in love, as you have poured yourself out in love of us.