Farmers periodically take samples of their ground and have them tested. If your spiritual ground was tested now, would you be:
- an infertile footpath? (Mt 13:4)
- infertile rocky ground? (Mt 13:5)
- fertile but unfruitful ground overgrown with thorns? (Mt 13:7)
- fertile, fruitful ground bearing a 30-fold harvest? (Mt 13:8)
- fertile, fruitful ground bearing a 60-fold harvest? (Mt 13:8)
- fertile, fruitful ground bearing a 100-fold harvest? (Mt 13:8)
When a farmer finds from testing that his soil is deficient, he does not ignore this information but takes measures to improve the condition of his ground. This should also be true spiritually. If you are an infertile footpath or rocky ground, repent and go to Confession as soon as possible. If you are fertile but unfruitful, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of your thorny compromise with the ways of the world (Jn 16:8). If you want to increase from a 30-fold harvest to 60-fold or 100-fold, you need community life and daily Bible study.
In good ground, you can grow almost anything worth growing. In bad ground, you can hardly grow anything. The condition of the ground is critical. Recognize the condition of your ground and improve it.
Jesus is gentle and humble of heart (compare Zec 9:9). Jesus “humbled Himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!” (Phil 2:8) Jesus humbled Himself and washed the feet of the apostles. Then He commanded: “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do” (Jn 13:15). Jesus promised: “Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Mt 23:12).
The Lord commands us to be humble in personal relationships. This is called “submission” (see Eph 5:21). We are to be humble in managing finances and possessions. This is called “stewardship.” The Lord commands us to be humble in obeying His Word through the teachings of the Church and her Bible. This humility in receiving teaching is called “docility.” In effect, the Lord wants our lives to be permeated with humility. The Lord promised: “I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly” (Zep 3:12). “Be humbled in the sight of the Lord” (Jas 4:10).
Generous hospitality will not go unnoticed.
I look forward to the day I can return to you. Keep praying. I’m praying for you. ~ Fr. Matt
These are the concluding words of the Missionary Discourse of Jesus, the second of his major speeches in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus challenges the disciples, and us too, to put no other person before our faith in him. For Christians there are new family ties, which, though not undermining our love of those dear to us, give us a broader perspective and a considerable challenge.
The cross is mentioned for the first time in Matthew’s gospel, not the cross of Jesus, but the difficult burden that each one must bear in imitation of him. We are called to give our lives as Christ himself will give his life.
But the embrace of missionary discipleship offers us new joys. Those who offer a welcome to the disciples of Christ forge a relationship with Jesus, and with ‘the one who sent him’. Friendships are transformed and offer us a wider and everlasting scope. How we treat others in this life, particularly the ‘little ones’, will bring us close to Jesus and to the one who sent him.
The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, centuries before Christ, received generous hospitality from a woman of Shunem. Her kindness is rewarded in an extraordinary way.