Saturday, February 06, 2010

SEXAGESIMA SYNDAY - meditation from Carmel

PRESENCE OF GOD - O, Lord, I am here before You. Grant that my heart may be the good ground, ready to receive Your divine word.

1. Today Jesus, the divine Sower, comes to scatter the good seed in His vineyard the Church. He wishes to prepare our souls for a new blossoming of grace and virtue. "The seed is the word of God". Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, eternal Utterance of the Father, came to sow this word in the hearts of men; it is, as it were, a reflection of Himself. The divine word is not a sound which strikes the air and disappears rapidly like the word of men; it is a supernatural light which reveals the true value of things; it is grace, the source of power and strength to help us live according to the light of God. Thus it is a seed of supernatural life, of sanctity, of eternal life. This seed is never sterile in itself; it always has a vital, powerful strength, capable of producing not only some fruits of Christian life, but abundant fruits of sanctity. This seed is not entrusted to an inexperienced husbandman who, because of his ignorance, might ruin the finest sowing. It is Jesus Himself, the Son of God, who is the Sower.
Then why does the seed not always bring forth the desired fruit? Because very often the ground which receives it does not have the requisitive qualities. God never stops sowing the seed in the hearts of men; He invites them, He calls them continually by His light and His appeals; He never ceases giving His grace by means of the Sacraments; but all this is in vain and fruitless unless man offers God a good ground, that is, a heart, well prepared and disposed. God wills our salvation and sanctification, but He never forces us; He respects our liberty.

2. Today's Gospel (Lk 8, 4-15) mentions four categories of people who receive the seed of the divine word in different ways. It compares them to the hard ground, to the stony soil, the earth choked with thorns, and lastly, to the good fertile field.

The hard ground: souls that are frivolous, dissipated, open to all distractions, rumors, and curiosity; admitting all kinds of creatures and earthly affections. The word of God hardly reaches their heart when the enemy, having free access, carries it off, thus preventing it from taking root.

The stony ground: superficial souls with only a shallow layer of good earth, which will be rapidly blown away, along with the good seed, by winds of passion. These souls easily grow enthusiastic, but do not persevere and "in time of temptation fall away". They are unstable, because they have not the courage to embrace renunciation and to make the sacrifices which are necessary if one wishes to remain faithful to the word of God and to put it into practice in all circumstances. Their fervor is a straw fire which dies down and goes out in the face of the slightest difficulty.

The ground covered with thorns: souls that are preoccupied with the wordly things, pleasures, material interests and affairs. The seed takes root, but the thorns soon choke it by depriving it of air and light. Excessive solicitude for temporal things eventually stifles the rights of the spirit.

Lastly, the good ground is compared by Jesus to those "who, with a good and upright heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience." The good and upright heart is the one which always gives first place to God, which seeks before everything else the Kingdom of God and His justice. The seed of the divine word will bear abundant fruit in proportion to the good dispositions it finds in us: recollection, a serious and profound interior life, detachment, sincere seeking for the things of God above and beyond all earthly things, and finally, perseverance, without which the word of God cannot bear its fruit in us.

O, Jesus, divine Sower, rightly do You complain of the arid, sterile ground of my poor heart! What an abundant sowing of holy inspirations, interior lights, and grace You have cast into my heart! How many times You have invited me to come to You by special appeals, and how many times I stopped, after following You for a short time! O Lord, if only I could understand the fundamental reason for my spiritual sterility, my instability and inconstancy in good! Will Your light fail me? No, for you are continually instructing and admonishing my soul in a thousand ways. Oh! If so many souls living in error and not knowing You have received but a hundredth part of the light which You have given me so profusely, how much fruit would they not have drawn from it!
Will Your grace fail me? Is not Your grace my strength? O Lord, I see that neither Your light nor Your strength will fail me; what I lack is the perseverance which can faithfully withstand temptations, difficulties, and darkness; which can face courageously the sacrifice and austerity of the Christian life. It is easy to make sacrifices and to renounce oneself for a day, but it is hard to keep on doing it always, every day of our life. It is not the reason that You said, O Lord, that the good heart brings forth fruit "in patience"?
O Jesus, who endured with invincible patience Your most sorrowful Passion and death, give me the patience I need to keep up the struggle against my passions and my self-love, patience to embrace with perseverance all the sacrifices required by total detachment, to be able to live without personal satisfactions and pleasures, to do everything that is repugnant to me, that hurts me, that crosses me and is displeasing to my self-love.
O, Lord, You know that I desire total purification because I long for union with You; but You cannot purify me entirely if I cannot accept patiently Your work: the trials, humiliations and detachments that You prepare for me. O Jesus, divine Sufferer, give me Your patience; make me, like Yourself, humble and patient.

Credit, meditation for Sexagesima Sunday, "Divine Seed" comes from the book "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD.