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Stir your stony hearts with prayer

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

"A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear." Matthew 13:1-23

While studying this gospel reading, I discovered an appealing thought on the importance of prayer in the Catholic Catechism. "Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower." (CCC 2707) These words caused me to examine the three bad soil: path with no dirt, rocky ground with little soil, and soil with thorns.

The seeds on the path that were eaten by birds represent individuals who fail to understand God's Kingdom. Giving attention to the Evil One is essential here, as he/she stole what was in their hearts. The mentioning of the Evil One only appears for those seeds that fell on the path. The seed never penetrated their souls entirely. Some external forces were more admirable. The seeds on the rocky ground really were not that bad. Those individuals received God's Word with joy, but their roots were not deep into the soil. A simple feel-good experience will not sustain you when your world becomes like dry clay, stopping the roots from growing. The seeds on thorns are those who hear the Word of God but fail to produce any fruit, they do not care for the inspiration from the "Good Book," they seek riches.

Even though most of the seeds fell on lousy soil, we must remember that the Sower sowed more than "one seed." No one plants just one seed and then expects a harvest. The Sower throws thousands of seeds hoping that some will grow. And unknowingly, there have been moments in our lives when God planted seeds in us years ago, but we never saw the gift until later in life. Was that seed on the path, rocky soil, or on a bush? Do not be deceived, some seeds have fallen on fertile grounds only to become weeds later in life.

For this reason, we must increase our prayer life. We must give strength to those seeds planted by the Holy Spirit through an active life of prayer. Prayer prevents the Evil One from stealing our love for Jesus. Prayer sustains in ministry. Studying God's Word and doing more theological reflections will also assist us in understanding God's will in our lives. And finally, if we would just seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, caring for the world as our focus, we will yield a fruitful harvest. Stir your stony hearts with prayer, and watch those seeds germinate and produce a fruitful harvest for the Kingdom of God.

Author: Evangelist Michael P. Howard

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