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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Sow a Thought, Reap an Act

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

A Meditation on St. Matthew 13:24-30

At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the crowds: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. And when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the weeds appeared as well. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ And the servants said to him, ‘Will you have us go and gather them up?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers: Gather up the weeds first, and bind them in bundles to burn; but gather the wheat into my barns.’

Great things come from little things. A huge oak tree comes from a tiny acorn. Human life begins small in the womb, but in about 15 years we can have a young man with a milk mustache, who is 160 lbs., 6 foot, 2 inches with size 13 shoes. Small things grow.

In the Gospel, Jesus talks about the sower and the seeds, and how one tiny seed “yielded a crop a hundredfold”. When His disciples ask to explain the parable, Jesus plainly states that “the seed is the Word of God”.

If we are to apply today’s parable to our lives, we might sum it up this way:

“Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”[1]

In other words, what we hear affects what we think, which influences our behavior, and over time our behavior determines our character, which affects every part of our life from now into eternity. Every word of Sacred Scripture is a seed, which, if we water with prayer, and fertilize with obedience to God’s Word, will grow up in holiness, to make us saints.

At various times throughout the centuries, the Christian Church has experienced crop failures. It was not because preaching stopped. Rather, it happened because the preaching was not accepted. The fault was not bad seed, but bad soil. The hearts of the hearers never allowed the truth to take root.

Arteriosclerosis is a well-known condition in which the physical arteries of the heart harden that can result in decreased function and death. A far more deadly disease is hardening of the heart towards God. Hardened arteries lead to physical death but a hard heart will lead to spiritual death.

And how do our hearts get hard? Pride is the main culprit—that sense of self-importance and superiority. Busyness is another reason. Our life is so full of stuff, it’s like a well-trodden path that is compacted into rock-hard soil.

Familiarity is another reason. We’ve grown up our whole lives hearing the parables and miracles of Jesus, so that we take them for granted, not allowing them to make an impression upon us. Another reason is lack of water.

Just as moisture softens the earth, sincere prayer, reverence in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist—these things till the soil of our hearts, softening our hearts, so that we are responsive to God’s word.

Simply praying is not enough. We must remain vigilant, becoming aware of how the devil seeks to steal us from prayer by distracting us. Neither is simple admiration enough. We cannot say that Jesus’ words were moving or the sermon was powerful and then do nothing. If we do nothing, we become like those who

“...hear, receive the word with joy, yet have no root and in time of temptation fall away” (v.13).

These tiny seeds from the Gospel must become catalysts of change in our life. When we hear the Word of God, we should hear it with conviction and zeal. Scripture can inspire us, but it can also correct us and lead us to stop certain attitudes and behaviors like gossiping, lusting, envying, and every sin.

The Word of God should convict us to be obedient to God. The Word of God exhorts us to humility, almsgiving, generosity, kindness, meekness and sweetness of spirit. Another reason that the soil of our heart becomes hard is because we give more importance to the earthly cares, riches and pleasures of our life. Someone once said,

“Many people give first-rate loyalties to second-rate causes.”

There are many parts of our life that are good: our family, our friends, our job, our hobbies, our home. But if these are more important than God, then they become bad for us. How many of us practice what I call ‘Left-over Christianity’?

In other words, whatever we give to God and His Church is that which is left-over after we give our time, talents and treasures to all the other things in our life. And usually, there is not much left-over.

One of the hidden treasures within today’s parable is that soil can be improved. Hard soil can be watered and plowed. Rocks and thorns can be removed. The soil of our heart can become fertile and productive once again through prayer, repentance and confession.

These three things can change our heart so that when we hear Word of God preached, we neither criticize nor compliment, but rather we decide and we follow-up on our decision so that the change in our heart becomes the change in our life.

As we draw to a close today, think about sensitivity. How sensitive are we to God’s voice? Are we as sensitive as a mother is the cry of her child? As sensitive as a Mozart to every note played in the orchestra?

There is story based on a Japanese legend about someone who died and went to heaven. The man was taken to a place that was filled with what appeared to be dried mushrooms but on closer examination discovered they were human tears.

When he inquired about them, he was told that these were the tears of people who diligently attended church, and listened with pleasure to teachings about God. Yet, they did nothing about what they heard so that after their death only their tears went to heaven.

“Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

[1] Fr. Anthony Coniaris, in his book Gems from the Sunday Gospels (vol.2, p.35)


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