Listening to and Putting into Practice Jesus’ Words and Teachings
|1st Reading:||Isaiah 55:10-11|
|2nd Reading:||Romans 8:18-23|
Listening to and Putting into Practice Jesus Words and Teachings
You shall indeed hear but not understand. (Matthew 13:14)
Any parent can tell you what it’s like to be heard but not understood: “In one ear and out the other” or “It’s like talking to a brick wall.” This is how it feels when they can’t seem to connect with their children.
Jesus had a similar experience. Despite all his time teaching and performing miracles in Galilee, he had little to show for it. Of course, disciples like Peter and Mary Magdalene and the others had left everything to follow him. They were trying to listen closely and put his teachings into practice. But what about the “large crowds” that he always attracted (Matthew 13:2)? They had seen the same miracles, but many of them didn’t see his compassion as something worth imitating. They had heard him talk about his Father’s mercy, but many didn’t seem to hear his words about loving their enemies.
Jesus’ words make it clear that discipleship involves both receiving his miracles and following his teachings. It involves the excitement of experiencing his power and love, and it involves choosing to love him back by trying to become more like him. It involves making sure that our hearts are like the good soil in today’s parable—listening intently and prayerfully to his words so that they can change our hearts.
Try to do just that today. Either before or after Mass, carve out fifteen minutes and focus on hearing Jesus speak to you. Find a quiet spot, choose one of the readings from today’s Mass, and read it. Really read it. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you and help you understand what God is saying. When a word or phrase leaps out at you, let it sink into your heart like seed in good soil. Ask Jesus what he wants you to do about it. Then do it. Let his word bear fruit in your life.
“Thank you, Jesus, for sowing your word into my heart.
Help me to nurture it so that I can become more like you.”
Questions for Reflection or Discussion:
- In the first reading, the Lord speaks these words: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
- The Lord tells us through the metaphor of rain how fruitful his word is: my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. What do these words mean to you?
- How do these words apply to your life?
- The responsorial psalm begins with these words: You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you enriched it. God’s watercourses are filled; you have prepared the grain. Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield. It ends with these words: The fields are garmented with flocks and the valleys blanketed with grain. They shout and sing for joy.
- The responsorial psalm speaks of what God has done to produce a fruitful land. In what way is this related to the metaphor of rain in the first reading?
- What is the role of God’s word in preparing, breaking, and softening our hearts – and in blessing its yield?
- Can you give an example when God’s word softened your heart and lead to fruitful changes? What was your response? Did it cause you to shout and sing for joy? If not, why not?
- The second reading opens with these words: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. It closes with these words: We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
- What message is St. Paul trying to convey with the opening words?
- Where in your life have you experienced the glorious freedom, that is, victory over sin?
- What do the closing words mean to you? Do you eagerly wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies?
- The Gospel reading tells the familiar Parable of the Sower. Jesus also tells of why he speaks in parables to the crowds: they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. He also reminds his disciples that blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
- The Parable of the Sower describes four different types of soil that the seeds are planted in: the path, rocky ground, thorns, and rich soil. How would you describe the meaning of each of the four types of soil?
- Which of these soils best describes the state of your heart? What steps can you take to make your heart a rich soil that hears the word and understand it and bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold?
- What message do you think Jesus was trying to convey with these words: they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand? How grateful are you that unlike the crowds listening to him, that Jesus says to us, his disciples, that blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear?
- The meditation is a reflection on the Gospel reading and includes these words: “Jesus’ words make it clear that discipleship involves both receiving his miracles and following his teachings. It involves the excitement of experiencing his power and love, and it involves choosing to love him back by trying to become more like him. It involves making sure that our hearts are like the good soil in today’s parable—listening intently and prayerfully to his words so that they can change our hearts.”
- In what ways have you known “the excitement of experiencing his power and love, and “choosing to love him back by trying to become more like him?
- Before and as you read Scriptures, what can you do to make sure that your “hearts are like the good soil in today’s parable—listening intently and prayerfully to his words so that they can change our hearts”?
- What steps can you take prior to Mass to prepare your heart and mind to hear and understand the Mass readings? What about just prior to hearing the readings during Mass and receiving the Eucharist?
Take some time now to thank the Lord for sowing his word into your heart and ask him for the grace to allow it to transform so you become more like him. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.
“Thank you, Jesus, for sowing your word into my heart. Help me to nurture it so that I can become more like you.”