Lent Day 39 – How Will You Respond?

by Bishop Robert Barron


The parable of the sower and seed provides a very helpful examination of conscience.

The sower of the seed is God the Father, and the seed that he sows is Jesus his son. “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart” (Mark 4:15).

I would imagine that practically everyone reading this reflection has heard the word of Jesus Christ. There are some reading who even attend church every Sunday and listen to that word. But perhaps you have never sought to deepen your faith, to understand what is being said. People will deepen their understanding of finance, science, literature, art, sports, technology—but they will often allow their religious understanding to remain at the eighth grade level. When we allow this to happen, the word will never take root in us.

“The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time” (Mark 4:16-17). I found this sometimes among the seminarians I used to teach. They could hear God’s word and that word could penetrate to their very heart and they could rejoice over it. But then they don’t allow it to sink deep into them. When they come down from their “high,” they lose interest and enthusiasm.

The Word of God is meant to sustain us precisely during the difficult times, but it can do this only if it reaches deep into us. The daily practice of the faith is essential here. Baseball practice is rarely if ever joyful. Violin practice is usually something of a drudgery. But those exercises allow people to play for the long haul. So in matters of God’s word: it has to be practiced.

“The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit” (Mark 4:18-19). This is now a third danger, distinct from the first two. The first had to do with the mind, and the second with religious practice. This one has to do with worldliness, which is always a danger to faith.

This parable offers a meditation on the ways the Word of Jesus Christ lands in our hearts and souls. The most important issue that you will ever face, the most pressing question you will ever be asked is how do you respond when this word is sown?

   

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  • Anton D

    – ‘ People will deepen their understanding of finance, science, literature, art, sports, technology—but they will often allow their religious understanding to remain at the eighth grade level. When we allow this to happen, the word will never take root in us. ‘

    – ‘ So in matters of God’s word: it has to be practiced. ‘

    – ‘The first had to do with the mind, and the second with religious practice.
    This one has to do with worldliness, which is always a danger to faith. ‘

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      I have found that when I deepen my understanding of science, literature, art, and technology, my appreciation of God is deepened. As for finance I find it boring and sports need practice not interested in that. I love Bishop Barron’s reviews of literature on YouTube.

      • Geraldine (Gerry) Novotny

        It gives me so much pleasure when scientists are proven wrong… One example: Years ago a chariot was found at the bottom of the Red Sea. Another, the pillar of salt was found. Excavations are proving everyday that the Bible is true. Scientists, usually atheists, are Coming Home to the Catholic Church…

        • D Blyth

          Gerry, I think that is where science confirms Scripture. The Catholic Church has a tradition of faith AND reason – probably the reason that scientists feel comfortable in the Church

        • kayeloney@cox.net

          Thanks be to God, i’m right handed. I have not had whole lot of pain I did not break the skin. I know the feeling of not being able to ask for help. I am seeing where it is making me more Humble. Peace be with you and with your Spirit.

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          I have seen some interviews of scientists on television when asked the question do you believe in God? They figurative take the 5th amendment. For sometime now it has been a certain career killer to publicly state a belief in God

      • Anton D

        I have a different view.
        My religious understanding does not deepen through my understanding of finance, science, literature, art, sports, technology. I need the teachings of the Church to put in order these pursuits. Else they can become Gods.

        I think today’s reflection stresses on that.

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          None of these disciplines can give us an understanding of God; that alone comes from scripture and prayer. I do say that scripture can help these other disciplines Show you God. Except maybe finance those people who study that discipline need to pray to the Holy Spirit to protect them from greed.

  • Anton D

    Fr. Barron’s some free giveaways:

    http://www.wordonfire.org/facebook-download/

    • Elizabeth

      Anton, as it says right click on the picture of recommended books then save it to your computer a pdf symbol for my computer shows on the lower left of my computer, when you click on the pdf info then the picture and the 9 pages of listings show up.

      • Anton D

        The pdf link is working but this page doesn’t seem to have a link to access the talks “SPIRITUALITY IN THE MARKETPLACE” SERIES [MP3].

  • ber

    Good morning praise god
    This made me this k this am (what is the word of god) the answer I got was( believe in me believe in the one that sent me) in other words believe in Jesus and the father that surprised me cos I was expting somtin more from scripture
    Their is of course scripture reading this will always bare fruit but their is another was when you contplate a mystery and the holy spirit enlighten your mind
    To bear fruit again I go back to the works of mercy to practice love in all its forms to witness to Christ in a world that rejects faith I did read scripture more in my youth thank god it is sticking to me now cos my brain just can’t now but that was seed born in my heart and is still baring fruit today and I guess that’s a sign that its still alive the older I get
    Blessings on your day

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      When I was being treated for the second cancer I made a promise to God that I would read a chapter of the Bible every day for the rest of the time I had on earth I prayed to the Holy Spirit Then made a list of the Books of the Bible. That was three years ago. I haven’t finished the Bible yet because I found that some chapters needed to be read for several days however I have read many of the books and the message is always the same “Trust in the Lord” has that sunk in for me? Not so much. Bernie you are fortunate you got it. For you reading the scripture whether you get a deep meaning or not will only make your love and trust grow.

      • ber

        Barbara I was very low when I found Jesus the person that loves me and that has stood by me I do try but very lazy I will pray for u and hope you will for me

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          Yes Bernie I will pray for you. I was probably at the lowest a human can get. I was 10 days from committing the suicide I had carefully planned to look like an accident, when I went to the Dr. because I believed I might have a really bad stomach flu that was going around and I wanted to protect my mother and handicapped brother from it. That was six years ago and I was diagnosed with cancer

          • ber

            But you didn’t thank God and as a result you have giving more of your love and a testament to us of what a wonderful gift you are to the world I admire your courage and know your brother and mother have someone that loves them so much that is not a selfish person but one with a lot of love don’t be too hard on yourself

          • Barbara Ann Baugh

            Oh yes ber, I have thanked God and St. Joseph every day since that day six years ago. I believe that cancer was the greatest gift God has given me because It from a path of sure damnation and put me on the path to salvation.

          • ber

            Amen to that Barbara

  • Paula Rush

    Respectfully, I would suggest that the question that we must ask is, how will I prepare the soil? What (or who) are the thorns and weeds I must remove from my life? What are the rocks that I must dig out of the soil? And think of what painstaking labour it is to remove rocks from soil! And if my soil has been trodden down – perhaps by the worries of life, perhaps by certain repetitive practices, even religious practices, that they have become merely habit and not meaningful – my soil will not be receptive to the seed of the sower. What can I do to turn up the soil? What must I do to get my soil ready, so that when the sower in his abundant generosity scatters the seed, it will take root in me and bring forth a new abundance of seed, ready to be sown once again.

    • disqus_HnV3z0p6yB

      Hi Paula! I heard it once said that prayer tills the soil of the heart. Thank you for helping me to remember this. MAy HE bless you abundantly :)

    • ber

      Brilliant

    • Christine Gloria Catherine Whe

      Paula the questions you raise fits perfectly with Bishop Barron’s. When God created us, he created the soil within and as he said ‘It was very good’. God laid very good soil. In time he planted the seed which is Jesus. How receptive were/are we? But as you say what/who are the thorns and weeds we must remove from our lives – very thought provoking indeed. Certain people try to erode our desire to remain faithful by enticing us in other ways, others like rocks weigh us down with worries, and yes our religious practices seem to become merely habit – a good habit. This used to worry me, but then I realized as long as I pull myself together and continue to till my soil with prayers (especially for others), help others in whatever way they need help, the seed planted in us will bear fruit in time. The soil is already ready, no need to turn it over, it just needs to be tilled, nourished everyday like a farmer who perseveres during all seasons good and bad. God bless you as we enter Holy Week. Today is the feast of St. Joseph, a perfect example of perseverance.

    • concerned citizen

      Very nice reflection, Paula. It only means that all of us can become the four types of soil at one time or another. And I like the thoughts of removing the thorns and weeds and rocks. But I would like to add, that along with that, we should still nourish it well with water, sunshine and fertilizer. And keep it away from the pests. And this is where the meaningful prayers (water), Sacraments (sunshine) and meditation (fertilizer) comes in. With these, good works or good fruits should be produced. Keeping it away from the pests mean avoid occasions of sin.

    • mrgees

      Dear Paula: that’s it. Jesus is the seed, but we need to prepare the soil, and to cultivate it to bring fruit satisfying God or else we are worthless. The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is the only one that can help us with this task. As long as we have faith in Christ that He builds the Church and He will never abandon Her, eg, that the Church will always show us the Truth, Christ, regardless how broken we are, the laity, and the clergy. God gives us all sacraments without which it is not possible to attain salvation from sin. Not many people, however, choose this path, and Jesus was very clear in warning us about the end. May we never stop trusting Him, and working our salvation in fear and trembling, as.Saint Paul said, for the prize is God Himself, while the opposite is eternal damnation. God Bless You.

  • Concord_Mike

    Excellent reflection!!! This parable is a challenging one, because it requires ME to TAKE ACTION if I want my relationship with God to survive and thrive.

    I do have to work and pray (my practice) to become more deeply rooted in my commitment to Christ and His Church if I am going to bear fruit.

    • Elizabeth

      I believe to evangelize is a “Calling.” And if God is calling me, I have the choice to be his hands heart and feet or not.

  • Wil Nier

    Randy, the painter, often thinned his paint to make it go further. The Baptist Church decided to restore its biggest building. Randy put in a low bid and got the job. He bought the paint, and, yes, thinned it with turpentine. Well, Randy was painting away, the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a clap of thunder. The sky opened, and the rain poured down. It washed the thinned paint off the church. Randy fell from the scaffold, landing among the gravestones. He was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty. Randy raised his voice to the heavens, crying, “Oh, God, forgive me; what should I do?” And from above, a mighty voice roared: “Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!”

    • Dude_Abides

      LOL Amen bruthur!

    • ber

      Loved it will bravo

    • Nancy Rynders

      A fun little story for Lent! Thanks for sharing!

    • Elizabeth

      The analogy is great –

  • John McCarthy

    The reflection this morning was rather a timely one for me as I was examining my conscience before going to confession this afternoon. Thank you.

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    Have you ever heard the statement said, that God the Father choose’s who will be cradle Catholic and the Son makes convert’s. The first time I heard this I was taken back a little bit there seem to be some truth in it. Most Cradle Catholic have to find the seed’s that set them on fire with Love for the Holy Trinity for all thing’s Catholic, The Convert’s come in with a deep thirst for the Eucharist and become on Fire with all things Catholic. Father Tim my Confessor said that we should not have laity as Eucharist Minister’s (which I am) that only Priest and Deacon’s should handle the Eucharist, He said that to take that question to Adoration and see what Jesus say, will I said I would except for before I could do that, the very day I had a accident I broke my arm and now in a sling for 6 weeks. I can’t drive with one hand can’t do house work or spring cleaning, my Husband has to take me everywhere. While I thinking about this, the question in my mind is God let this happen, so was the Confessor right? I have to be taken off the schedule for 6 weeks, so I will think about this and meditate on this for and answer and probably ask other Priest about this. So I will ask you too, what do you think?

    • D Blyth

      I believe that those are mere speculation. Salvation and conviction is a continuous process and not an event as the Once-saved-always-save (OSAS) protestants claim.
      Fr Tim has a limited authority and that it’s only his opinion.
      Simply because you were injured it does not confirm Fr Tim’s opinion.
      The key issue is to do things out of love for our Lord and His people.

      • kayeloney@cox.net

        Thank You D Blyth for responding I like your thoughts.

      • Gary

        It depends. We all have to come to the cross to be included in the resurrection. “I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live, not I but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Since I have already been crucified with Christ, I live a resurrected life. If you have died with Christ you will be raised with him. I have been Justified, now I am being sanctified, and I will be glorified.

    • ber

      Kayeloney I myself don’t believe we should use Eucharist ministers that said however we are always told to obey our priests the church has decided that they will use them and they alone wil be responsible before God sad to say there is fewer priests on the ground there is a lot of people in homes ect that would never receive the Eucharist without Eucharist ministers so I think we have to be sensible If your priest desides against them then obey him if not then also obey him leave it in gods hands

    • Geraldine (Gerry) Novotny

      In regard to your broken arm: Amazing you can type. I broke my arm, out of the cast two weeks now, and can now do more than hunt and peck. Like you I had to depend on my husband to do almost everything for me, too. Very humbling. I’m still hurting, as I know you are too, but God allowed this to happen for a reason. Mine, to be able to ask for help and accept help. Glory to God!

    • Elizabeth

      Eucharistic Ministers also visit the sick.To see a person light up after receiving Jesus from a Eucharistic Minister,(me) erases all doubt about the issue.

      • Deng

        I am not a member of any Catholic group or organization in my church. I am just an ordinary parishioner believing, trusting and loving GOD with all my heart. I now wonder how does one qualify to be a Eucharistic Minister, Elizabeth. Please enlighten me and thank you.

        • Elizabeth

          Deng, introduce yourself to your Pastor and get direction from him. You will definitely be a bearer of Christ to others.

        • rtclovesmac

          Deng,

          Where you live may impact how Eucharistic Ministers are selected and trained.

          I would definitely speak with your Parish Priest who will guide you in how you can serve the Church.

          There are many ways to serve. It sounds like the Holy Spirit is calling you. And it sounds like you are listening.

          Sort of reminds me of the call of Samual

          Go in peace!

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      I believe that you should ask your pastor about this. One thing to think about this is if Fr. Tim is right then why have not all the Eucharistic Ministers had accidents that prevent them from their duties? There is probably no relation between your activity as a Eucharistic Minister and your accident
      The Eucharist Ministry came out of Vatican II and has not been struck down by the magisterium. Eucharistic ministers only distribute the host. All the people handle the host if they take communion in the hand.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    I have always felt the presence of Jesus; just sometimes I felt uncomfortable with that presence. Perhaps the Seed was always there It just 68 years to germinate. Today, the feast of St. Joseph is a very special day for me. Six years ago today I was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. I was told I had 4 to nine months to live. St Joseph has seen me through that cancer and three years ago another cancer and just recently a life threatening situation at the surgery site of the first cancer. This is a little off topic but I cannot help but honor St. Joseph in his feast day.

    • ber

      Barbara I’m so glad your doing better praise God there is herbs called essiac which a lot of people found helpful worth a mention

  • Linda Dokey

    Yes Bishop Barron I agree, most in my experience of teaching has found that even 90% of the Parishioners don’t know very much about their Faith and Church, it is so sad to see this. PRAYING THAT ALL MAY COME TO KNOW AND SERVE OUR LORD JESUS ALWAYS WITH A LOVE UNCONDITIONAL. AMEN

    • D Blyth

      It seems that those that leave the Church are poorly catechised and those that join are often diligent seekers who have studied in significant depth

      • Linda Dokey

        This is so very true DBLYTH!
        Most Cradle Catholics “know all they need to know” so are stagnant in their Faith . I LOVE Seeing the growth of the R.C.I.A. and the Children. The Holy Spirit within them is BEAUTIFUL. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS ♡

        • Elizabeth

          Our church’s Catechism class has many cradle Catholics enjoying the awareness of their faith evolving from their youth. Me included.

  • Màire Ní Bhroin

    Thx for today’s reflection! It is our daily manna and inspires me again to write this metaphysical haiku.

    Meditation on Life

    Jesus is the anchor,
    The Word is our lifeboat,
    On every stormy sea.

    • Elizabeth

      Maire Ni Bhroin, thank you for sharing your Haiku poetry. I love the fact that Haiku is succinct and to the point.

      • Màire Ní Bhroin

        Thank you Elizabeth, you are very kind! God bless!

  • Nancy Rynders

    Another great reflection on this well-know parable. I think about our garden, and the fact that we add stuff for compost to make the soil richer. This includes vegetable, waste from our chicken coop – all that “debris” goes into the soil to make it richer. I can look at sin, my failings, as that waste – to learn from those mistakes, and to allow them to make my soil richer, so that Jesus Christ will flourish in my life.

  • concerned citizen

    I had posted this two days ago, I think. I said in the first soil, it is those whose words enter one ear and out the other. In the second soil, it is those whose words enter, stay in their minds for awhile, but they question and reject it. In the third soil, it is those whose words enter, stay in their minds but is swept by the tide of immorality and in the fourth soil, it is those who nourish it and act on it immediately.

    Let me give an example. For instance in the homily, the priest says if you see clothes in your closet that you have not used for a long time, this is no longer yours but belong to the poor. Give it to them.

    In the first soil, the words did not even register in his mind. Most likely he was thinking of another thing during the homily.

    In the second soil, the words registered, but he disagreed with the priest, no, that’s too much. I worked hard to buy those clothes, why should I give them. He questioned the words and rejected them.

    In the third soil, the words registered, but a few days after the Mass, he started watching movies and tv and was impressed by the nice clothes he saw in the movie and decided not to donate his clothes anymore.

    In the fourth soil, the words registered, and immediately that day, he started collecting all these unused clothes and gave them to the Church.

    • ber

      What can I concerned were you lookin in my wardrobe ???

  • rtclovesmac

    With hopeful gratitude, maybe after 61 years, the roots of my Faith are starting to spread…Lord let me not forget to continue to feed them with Your Word

  • Dayna Ellis

    I can see myself in all three of these stages during my lifetime. The confirmed Catholic in 8th grade and thinking I don’t need to study religion anymore, “Hallelujah, no more Catechism!” The young Catholic mother with sick children at home wondering, “Maybe, I need to be saved. That has to be the problem.” The working woman struggling with lesson plans, deadlines, and grading papers …just too busy to read His Word. Life always brings problems. The daily study of God’s word and prayer is the only real solution to easing those problems. Often wonder why it took me so long to learn that lesson.

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Hi Dayna,

      There are things you had to learn and experience before the Lord seals His promise.
      Theoretically, had He intervened sooner, you may have missed an important lesson.

      When we wait on God, we can get restless waiting wondering why He “isn’t helping us” when, in actuality, He is! You just Don’t see it yet. The Lord doesn’t always eliminate all the problems in our daily routines of raising children, working etc, but He can and will support us in various ways.

      From what you have said, the Lord loving digested to you that if you gave Him a few moments of your time each day, you would feel better and find out

  • Angel_3

    Comparing practice with baseball or any sport you love may not be the best analogy but maybe it is, in a way. I LOVED practice because I loved the sport whether it was basketball, softball or even volleyball. Maybe in those cases, when you love doing something, like reading the Word or praying, that is when it really sinks in, when you really practice your faith!

  • Joseph T. Garcia

    The ‘ WORD; was made flesh and dwells among us .

  • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

    Happy St. Joseph feast day,

    As I was reading your reflections of your lives, a thought came to me. The number of comments that had analogies and good analogies to say the least.
    The Bishop used analogies, and spoke of those who “hear the Word” and either don’t understand it and/or find the Word boring or both!

    Often times the homily is some what vaque concerning the meaning of scripture readings that day. Many priests have a simple way of explaining God’s Word through stories, of real life experiences and others are the parables, analogies, the little stories of comparison or example.
    As the Bishop said many who are lost in the theological explination are attentive to the “stories” we use to explain some thing’s!

    This is precisely what most of you were doing today.
    Face it! Sometimes we better understand things when they are explained in stories.
    We all are basically ” kids in adult bodies”.

    Lord only knows how many souls read these reflections today, though they may not have left a comment.

    I have been told that my “analogies or stories are a part of who my ancestors were, the Irish story tellers, but the Holy Spirit is the One Who does the talking in all of us. I just write them down!
    He does the same to all of you!

    I leave you with sometning we all should remember.
    “Be mindful off how you present yourselves to others, for you may be the ” only Jesus” they ever meet”!

    Here is an Irish prayer many of you may know.
    “When you die, may you be in Heaven before the devil knows your dead”! Amen.

    Michael
    The Prayer Warrior

    • Elizabeth

      Thought you would appreciate this Michael. For the past 16 years we celebrate my cousin’s grandson Christopher’s birthday – born on March 17th. The only Irish person is a friend of the family who makes delicious Irish soda bread. Every year we have celebrated his birthday with a corned beef and cabbage dinner with Iriish soda bread and St. Joseph pastry. What a pleasure to have two saints, one who protected Mary and Jesus because of his commitment to love the Lord God, and the other to serve God by bringing people to God.

      • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

        Hi Elizabeth,

        Thank you! I like corn beef and cabbage, cabbage rolls, boiled cabbage, slaw, anything potato….. fried, boiled, raw etc.

        Simple country, farmland food. Good old country style dishes especially greasy stuff like pork, Angus beef, chicken rabbit pheasant etc, and don’t forget biscuits and gravy!

        Cool way to celebrate a person’s birthday!

        Peace,

        Michael

  • Cindy

    This was a very helpful meditation. Thank you bishop!

  • Sam

    I can readily relate to the sports practice analogy, having played sports, but I always loved practice because I knew it would make me a more competent and more skilled athlete.

  • jesspinosa

    A blessed Holy Week to you, Bishop Barron, and to all of you, dear friends.