Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection January 24, 2024


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R/. I will keep my faithful love for him always.

V/. Alleluia R/. Alleluia

V/. The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live forever.

R/. Alleluia

At that time: Jesus began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’” And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

1.      God’s grace is constant and abundant. This grace is beyond all the differences and difficulties of human living situations. It has no discriminations. The seed of God’s grace is offered to all the four kinds of soil in the gospel.

2.      But the extent of their receptivity and the way and durability of the care and growth of the seed make the difference in the extent of the production and the product.

3.      There is no use in blaming God’s grace or the situations. In fact, these four soil- categories are not exclusive and water-tight compartments. These four types of tendencies and receptivity surround us all in varying degrees.

4.      There is a total indifference and lack of openness represented by the wayside soil. There is a lack of stability and depth represented by the rocky soil. There is a lack of resistance and perseverance amidst the dominance of the evil represented by the bushy soil. And there is the total receptivity and fecundity represented by the fertile soil. It is left to us how to respond to God’s grace.

5.      Most people are not productive, because they are not receptive and active toward God’s action. Rightly, they are like those described by Jesus in the gospel: They see but do not perceive; they hear, but do not understand. They are so closed and unreceptive. They fail to turn again and to receive God’s forgiveness.

6.      In this context, St Francis de Sales whom we commemorate today stands before us as a glowing example of the fertile soil that is superabundant. He was totally receptive to and cooperative with God’s grace and so he bore abundant fruits of the Spirit.

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