Our first reading today is a beautiful pastoral reflection on the Word of God and how it works within us. Let’s read it now:
‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’
We all know the parable of the sower, how Christ uses the casting of seed on different types of ground to demonstrate the receptivity – or not – of God’s Word in our hearts. So, let us concentrate today on this older text of the first reading. It is a contemplative’s dream, this text, and a perfect opportunity to frame where we are in the life of God’s Word.
First of all, we see that the prophet uses the action of nature to portray the Word. The rain and the snow are inevitable and we cannot be exactly sure when they will come. There is never any certainty other than the fact that they WILL come.
He also uses height. The rain and the snow come down to us from above. And they are a bestowal, a gift, so that we can be sustained.
And he tells us something else: that nature always does what it was sent to do. In a sense, the perfection of nature is in its doing exactly what it was asked to do. We see here a footprint to the perfection of God, a perfection that we cannot quite grasp.
What nature is doing here is transforming the ground and the plants so that they become life-giving. In just the same way, God’s Word transform us into his fruitful children.
The place we go to is scripture. This is the fountain of life that the prophet speaks of. If we stoop ourselves into the waters of scripture, we are placing ourselves into a sure road of grace. We are asked not just to read, but to listen, to remain open. This is sometimes a painful process. Just as a seed must die if it is to spring into life as a plant, so parts of us must die so that God’s Word can activate us wholly.
Let us read the Scripture in today’s Mass and consider what Christ is saying to us through those words. Reading Scripture isn’t about locating some kind of feel-good factor. It should challenge us. It should drive us upwards, perhaps in ways we didn’t expect. We should experience the growing pains of God’s children, as our Saviour blasts away the dead parts, cuts away the rotten understanding of love that we too easily depend on. So, let us remain open as we read Scripture today, and pray for the light of Christ to enter our hearts and find a home there.
:..the one who received the seed in rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it; the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’