By Deacon John De Gano
As I was taking a break from writing this column, I noticed while walking that the grass between the street and the sidewalk was covered with little brown plugs of approximately two inches in length lying all around.
The parable of the sower and the seed (Mt 13:3-23) immediately sprung to mind, with the seed falling on good soil, rocky soil, etc. and how some seed grew, while others either withered away and died or were eaten by the birds.
Jesus then explained to his disciples who the four types of seed (human beings) mentioned in his parable were. Some will reject the word of God outright. Others will accept it for a time but then forsake it under persecution. The third type will eventually succumb to temptation or worldly desires (such as the desire for riches) and die.
“But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” – Mt 13:23
We are the seed that the Sower (God) sows. And the soil is how we grow in the faith.
How then do we know that our spiritual soil is rich and remains rich? Ready for planting?
It could have become hard packed from lack of use or misused by placing a path overtop of our soil and smothering out what faith there was growing there. In addition, weeds of disbelief and doubt might have grown up choking out the initial planting of faith we had as a child.
Aerating soil through the use of a spike or plug aeration system in the spring or fall permits water and nutrients to reach beneath the thatch layer to the roots.
Faith formation, like gardening or lawn care, is never a “one and done.”
We need to keep forming our faith so that as we mature in faith we grow into majestic trees and plants and produce abundant fruit.
The Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation—merely get us into full and mature communion with the Body of Christ (the Church). There is still more we can learn. More we can do. We aren’t supposed to stop there. We are called to minister to and serve beside one another, bearing God’s love to the hopeless and forlorn.
If we can say that we are doing all of that, then there is only one thing left, as Jesus told the rich young man, “Sell everything and give the money to the poor and come, follow me!”
It was too much for the young man for he had many possessions (Mt 19:22).
But if we till our soil regularly with God’s word, missions and retreats, ongoing formation classes and spiritual music and books our soil will be truly rich.
And we will be up for any challenge.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Riverside.