The story is told about a couple who had a cold war before their 25th wedding anniversary. They made peace, and in his joy the husband told the wife that he would have one of their pigs slaughtered and cooked for the occasion. In response, the wife said: “Poor pig. What does he have to do with a mistake we made 25 years ago?” And it was a cold war once again.
In today’s Gospel (Mt. 13, 1-23), Jesus tells us in the Parable of the Sower that God sows good seeds, but whether a seed will live, bear fruit, and yield a bountiful harvest or not will depend on the ground where it is sown. In other words, we cannot blame God, we will only have ourselves to blame for the life we are living. We make the choice. We must stop blaming. He/she who blames others still has a long way to go in his/her journey toward meaningful living.
What kind of ground is your heart? Is it shallow ground that is not receptive to the word of God? Is it rocky ground where the word of God cannot take root? Is it thorny ground where the word of God cannot grow? Or is it good ground where God’s word is received, takes root, grows, and bears much fruit? God plants the good seed. It is up to us to respond to it. It is our call, our choice, all by and with His grace.
I am reminded of a coffee stop I made in Spain during a pilgrimage some years ago. With my little knowledge of Spanish I managed to follow the directions on how to get coffee from a coffee machine. When I pressed the last button on the machine, I beamed with pride as I heard the sound of coffee starting to drip. But then I was jolted by the frantic shout of the bartender: “La tasa! La tasa!” Good coffee was dripping, but I had forgotten to position my cup for the taking! Let us make sure that as we go through life, our cup is there and open to God’s bountiful grace and blessings.
Someone once said that the first quarter of our lives is spent on learning how to live; the second quarter on making a living; the third quarter on finally living; and the last quarter on truly preparing for the eternity that is waiting. Of course, all our years should be a preparation for our final destination, where there will be a final and definite accounting, for we know not where or when we will be called.
Prayer is basic in having a fruitful and productive life. But there are people who are prayerful, and yet live lives that are fruitless and selfish. Maybe it is because they do not really listen to God when they pray. They just babble, and fire away devotions and emotions, continuously focused on their problems, finding solutions, and doing it all out of obligation or tradition, even with a bit of manipulation. Are you selfish even in your prayers? Remember, the heart of prayer is not so much about petitions and intercessions as about praise, adoration, and trust.
To be “productive” in our spiritual lives, we must learn to pray more, talk less; trust more, worry less; walk more, run less. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46, 10). It is those hidden, quiet, unknown moments with God that make us take root, grow, and bear lasting fruits.
At the front of my desk in my room are the photos of Mama and her brother, Tio Ben Muñoz, their smiling faces filled with serenity and peace. They were neither rich nor famous nor powerful. No, they were something more than that. They were prayerful, humble, kind and joyful persons who loved God, and who loved truly and simply. One trait they had is that they knew how to fade away from the limelight, and to find time and make time to be with God in silent prayer. That is what made them live productive and fruitful lives.
July 22 is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Her life was a testament that it is possible to bear fruit despite a difficult and dark past. In other words, it is never too late for anyone of us to start again and to start anew. As long as we live, there is hope. May we learn to be open to conversion at any point of our lives.
Think about this: “People with scars have a story to tell. Scarred people are beautiful.”
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, remind us that it is our choice to wither or to bear fruit. Amen.
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