Pax! Below is Fr. Cassian's homily from last Sunday, on the passage from Luke 8, the parable of the sower, where he focuses on the "Word" being efficacious provided that the ground is good and that the conditions are favorable.
As a reminder: are you looking to visit Norcia? Our friends at Inside the Vatican organize several pilgrimages throughout the year, and some of them come to Norcia. Click here for more information.
Finally, if you're interested in getting a monastic ringtone, click here. One of our friends proposed the idea, and another friend cut some of the chants and made the ringtones. Enjoy!
Monastery of San Benedetto, Norcia, Italy
The prophet Isaiah affirms that the word of God is always good, efficacious, and fertile.
The Evangelist Luke, though, returning to the parable of Jesus about the sower, seems to add a condition, a “provided that”. Yes, the seed, which is the word of God, is always good, and is fertile, certainly—but not automatically. The word will be efficacious provided that the ground is good and that the conditions are favorable.And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither…so shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it (Is 55:10-11).
This parable can help us examine our conscience, to see if the ground of our heart is truly good and if the conditions of our life are truly favorable to produce good fruit for the Lord.
- The Lord explains the parable, saying: The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear: then the devil comes and takes the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved (Lk 8:12).
- The Lord continues with his explanation: Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots: for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away (Lk 8:13).
How can we have roots so deep? We must drink from the streams of the Holy Spirit, we must take care not to abandon the fountain of living water, cisterns we have dug ourselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water (Jer 2:13). We must also resist in times of drought and not abandon hope.is as a tree that is planted by the waters,
that spreads out its roots towards moisture:
and it shall not fear when the heat comes.
And the leaf thereof shall be green,
and in the time of drought it shall not be solicitous,
neither shall it cease at any time to bring forth fruit (Jer 17:8).
- The Lord returns to the explanation of the parable: And that which fell away among thorns are they who have heard and, going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit (Lk 8:14).
Even good worries—our family, our work, our community—can become thorns which grow and suffocate the word; not to speak of the deceit of riches, which is surely a temptation. All of these worries—whether good or bad—become an obstacle which impedes the maturation of the sown Word in our hearts.
On the one hand, we must be good administrators of the gifts, which the Lord has given us. On the other hand, though, the Gospel admonishes us: be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?…And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit?…Consider the lilies of the field… (Mt 6:25-28) and so forth.
Perhaps the intensity of our worries indicate a lack of trust in God? How can we clean up the field of our heart from these thorns?
- The Lord concludes the explanation of the parable: But on the good ground are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience (Lk 8:15).
The word is always good, as we’ve seen. And when the earth is good and the conditions are favorable, the word can produce much fruit. The word par excellence is our Lord, Jesus Christ, the grain of wheat which, fallen to the ground, dies—to then produce great fruit (cf. Jn 12:24). At the end of the day, isn’t it the same for us, too? We are the ground of the sower, but we are also the seed, and this seed must die so that it can then be planted in a new form, a new life. We will bear fruit only if we imitate the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord. In fact, the Lord has appointed you, that you should go and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain (Jn 15:16).
(Translated from the original Italian by B. Gonzalez.) (The Monks Of Norcia:here)