The parable of the sower is well known to us. I am sure that we can all identify with some of the realities in that gospel. It is interesting. The seed is the same throughout the parable. Of course, the seed represents the Word of God, and that Word of God is directed to all – the same truth, the same love proclaimed, the same salvation preached. The ‘problem’ is not in the seed, but in the different situations in which the seed found themselves. Perhaps we identify with the seed thrown among the rocks. Jesus said “When some trial and persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away”. Such strong words, but yet true!
This is the situation that most caught my attention this time when I reflected on the parable of the sower – not the seed on the path, or among the thorns, or in the rich soil, but that among the rocks. What first struck me was that the person “hears the word and receives it at once with joy”. The word touches the heart of the person and moves them to a response. One of those responses is joy. Joy is a very important Christian virtue. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “From frowning saints, good Lord deliver us!” If we believe in Jesus, and accept His message of life, and embrace His way of life, then we should have joy in our hearts. We can’t walk around with long faces and think we are witnessing to Jesus. We can’t attract others to the message and person of Jesus by giving the impression that life is drudgery. Rather, we must experience and portray a passion – an authentic passion for life, for love, for the Lord. That passion is a fruit of our faith. If we truly believe then even the “trials and persecutions” should not deter us from following Jesus. Jesus, in his own life, experienced numerous “trails and persecutions” long before the cross of Calvary. How can we expect anything differently if we are committed to follow him?
Often, in our human condition, we are not willing to pay that price to follow Jesus. Although there may be initial enthusiasm and joy, we soon fall into past habits and feelings. Sometimes we may think ‘it is too good to be true’, and when we ‘come back to earth’ (when life returns to normal) we think that our spiritual experience or spiritual awareness was just an illusion. It wasn’t real! Life really isn’t supposed to be that special, or that joyful, or that inspirational! And so we doubt ourselves, the authenticity of our spiritual experience, but most of all we doubt Jesus the Lord and His power in our lives. Our feelings of unworthiness will take that joy out of our hearts and lives, and lead us to just existing, rather than living! Jesus offers us life, and life in its fullness.
Reflect on moments of joy in your lives – perhaps your graduation, or your marriage, or the birth of your child, or a great accomplishment at school or work. Then seek out joy in your faith. Hold on to that joy that we associate with the celebrations of faith in the family! It is not an illusion, but an invitation to a deeper life with Jesus. It is not a passing feeling, but a more profound experience of the life of God in your life. It is not an ‘accident’ but the result of God’s grace at work in and through you; perhaps sometimes even despite ourselves that work of God’s grace manifests itself.
The next step in your ‘homework’ is to imagine what takes away your joy – when you have to pay a price to profess your faith in Jesus Christ by acting and living in a certain way that reflects the gospel values. When, like Peter walking on the water, you lose heart and tell yourselves ‘This can’t be’. Many times our life may appear, as in the parable, like life “among the rocks”. Life can be difficult. Life for Jesus was often difficult. Life in union with Jesus can often be difficult. We may not be ‘saved’ from the harsh reality of life, but our faith will influence the way we relate to that reality – leading us to peace and joy, rather than despair and sadness.
Bogdan Jański received the Word ‘among the rocks’ – with struggles, temptations and doubts. However, through the grace of God, with humility, and the influence of people of faith, he came to provide a rich “soil” for that Word, that bore fruit in bringing others to Christ, and forming a religious congregation that would bring hope, and work – together with the laity – for “the resurrection of society”.