We live in a society that likes instant results and instant gratification.
For those of us who still go to the grocery: we buy instant meals and then try to get in the shortest line on the way out - or go to the self-check out to hurry things along.
The internet provides us with instant information and we find instant replays essential when it comes to our sports.
Now I will be the first to admit - I don’t like wasting time - so I do head for the self-check out lines – and am still searching for the quickest way to get south of the river these days . . .
But we can’t deny the reality that some things just take time. People who are highly successful in life did not get where they are at without patience and effort - whether that’s in the arts, sports, business or academic field. Children do not grow up instantly - no matter how quickly we want the adolescent years to pass - and nobody gets to retire before putting in years of work.
I think what Jesus is telling us in today’s gospel is our spiritual growth – our being transformed more and more into the image and likeness of Christ – is one of those things that takes time, patience, and perseverance.
These days, computers on tractors and planters make the sowing of seeds very precise – there is very little waste. . . But even in Jesus’ day - an ordinary farmer would have sowed sparingly - only seeding good ground.
But in the parable – the farmer is far from ordinary. Because the farmer stands for God – and when God scatters seed – it goes everywhere. In other words, God’s call and God’s grace and God’s mercy – are offered to everyone – indiscriminately and unconditionally.
For in the parable - the seed is the word of God that Jesus preached. Like:
Come to me all you labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Or - whoever does not take up their cross and follow after me - is not worthy of me. . .
So, not everyone was receptive to Jesus’ message. Some people listened to his teachings, liked his stories – then quickly forgot what they were intended to teach.
Some people got very enthusiastic about what they heard, then other things quickly drew their attention and overtook the core of their being.
Some were even hostile to Jesus.
But there were some - who did listen to Jesus’ message and allowed the seed to take root in them, to grow, and overtake their hearts – so that the word of God was at their core.
One of the most detrimental things, I think, to our spiritual journey – is discouragement–
discouragement that we are not growing fast enough - or someone else seems to be more holy than we are, or we think we will never become the people we want to be. . .
I think we all want God’s grace and God’s love to lift us up, to spur us on, to fill us with joy each and every day – and some days it does.
But other days we let discouragement get the better us. The wonderful things we think our faith should do for us don’t seem to be there.
And so we give up on our faith and our progress in our becoming more and more like Christ – much too quickly, and God’s grace and love becomes in us that seed which withers and dies. And that’s not what God wants for us - and not really what we want for ourselves.
The most important thing this parable can teach us – is – perseverance – the need to stick to our spiritual journey no matter what.
Sure our prayers are not always wonderful, our lives are certainly not always sinless, and our charity is not always perfect. Let’s be honest and admit we do have a lot of imperfections – and the more we grow spiritually, the more we become aware of them.
But THE most important thing is to keep on trying. To persevere. To not give up on ourselves or one another – because when we give up – we backslide - and our hearts become hardened rather than becoming softened.
The great inventor Thomas Edison once said: “I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident – they came from work.” And so does our growth in faith.
Another time he said: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” And that’s a four letter word many of us dislike.
A Russian Orthodox proverb tells us to:
“Pray to God, but keep rowing to the shore.”
The great salesman and author, Coleman Cox, states: “Even the woodpecker owes its success to the fact that it uses its head and keeps pecking away until it finishes the job.”
And Saint Mother Theresa is just as profound for saying: “To keep a lamp burning, you have to keep putting oil in it.”
Are we putting oil in the lamps of our faith wo we can be the light of the world which Jesus calls us to – or are we forgetting the oil all together much like the foolish virgins we will hear about in mid-November?
God’s word and God’s grace and God’s mercy and love – are like seeds - they need to be nurtured and cared for with prayer, the sacraments, and good works.
God is an indiscriminate and unconditional, and a rather sloppy farmer: for God offers grace freely – but we can’t ignore it, can’t sit on it, can’t let it be choked out by distractions or laziness, or taken from us by the world’s temptations.
We have to nurture it – which does mean some effort and care and work on our part – and that’s why we gather at this table today. . .
Moments in time...