One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the Mass Readings personally and to meditate on a Gospel reflection.
A great way of doing this is using the technique of Lectio Divina, a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday Gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.
This week, Fr. Piccolo reflects on Matthew 13:1-23, the Gospel reading for the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time.
We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.
The Gospel of the Lord
“Thus, the function of discourse is, in a way, to guide the soul. He who seeks to be an orator must know how many types of souls there are.” ~ Socrates, in Plato’s “Phaedrus”
Every day we lay out our words before others; meanwhile we are continually deafened by all the words the world heaps on us. Speaking a word – sometimes uselessly, sometimes romantically, other times violently – is an everyday action.
We lay our words before others in the hope that someone will take them up, comprehend them, bind them together, or simply listen. We are constantly talking about ourselves. We reveal ourselves to others through our words because it could happen that no one will be interested enough to take up the book of our lives in their hands and open it.
We tell parables. The word Parable comes, in fact, from the Greek word paraballein, meaning “to throw out before others.” We are all parables: existences lain before others in the desire to be gathered up and listened to.
We speak, or better yet, we give ourselves over, we lay our lives out before others in different ways. Some people speak in clichés, using labels and slogans, innumerable words; they don’t truly give themselves over, rather they impose themselves such that their speech is violent. There are also those who choose their words carefully, trying to keep everyone around them happy in a manipulative game of using and being used. Then there are those who speak but never listen, living in a river of words without banks that envelopes those around them. And there are those that, keeping silent, never giving themselves over to others.
The way we speak is always an expression of our attitude before life itself. Maybe this is why Jesus is how God speaks, or rather, gives Himself to humanity. In the seed of the Word, Jesus tells of the life that is given and the existence He wishes to bear fruit. God speaks to every type of soil; he gives Himself in every situation.
When I was a little boy, I remember that every time she reached this part of the Gospel, the Sister teaching us would ask: “and what type of soil are you?” I have always found this question to be very unsettling. I have always felt judged and always found myself lacking. With time I have learned to understand this passage differently. I don’t think that is the right question to ask.
It seems to me that Jesus’ words are more comforting; they tell us that no matter what type of soil I am now, God will always continue to sow his word in me. God continues to give himself into my life, whatever type of soil I may be. God risks himself for me. He is balanced between fidelity and folly for my sake in a way that is still incomprehensible to me.
That is how I understand that marvelous encounter that occurs in the Eucharistic liturgy between the word and the bread, just as in Emmaus: words are given and bread is broken. The word and the bread become mirrors of each other.
Unlike Socrates (quoted above), Jesus does not discriminate among his listeners, He does not analyze the other to verify if he is worthy or suited to receive his teaching. Socrates refuses to write in order to avoid it falling in the hands of one who could not understand his teachings. Meanwhile Jesus sows the seed of His word everywhere, trusting each of us regardless. At this point I am not sure if our manner of speaking and of self-giving is Evangelical or if it is more in the line of Socrates.
I too give you these words; I lay them before you. It is unavoidable that I give myself over a little as well; I expose myself to the risk of being misunderstood. It is nothing less than a way of life.
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