Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Gospel parable we hear today is a familiar one. Naturally, we all want our hearts to correspond to that good soil our Lord references, but we are also alert to the ways in which we receive the word with rocky soil, or of the thorns that spring up and get in the way. The best way for us to keep good soil available for God in our hearts is through a regular life of prayer and sacramental grace. This means praying daily, Mass each week, and some regularity with the sacrament of Confession. Some other tremendous helps to these fundamentals include frequent prayer of the Rosary and regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament (I highly recommend stopping by our Adoration chapel during the week!).
Just as there is work we can do to cultivate our hearts for the Lord, there is a corresponding effort the Lord makes toward us. The Prophet Isaiah reminds us of this in the first reading as he tells us of the providential care that God gives his creation. It is God who sets the world in motion and who gives us everything we need. Fortunately, the life of grace does not depend on us! Rather, God wants to, and in fact does, pour out grace upon grace, so that we can grow according to his plan and design.
I am writing this while on the road for a seminary class reunion. While I will be home for the weekend, I will have spent several days with priests from around the country with whom I studied for and prepared for the priesthood. Some I have seen regularly, while others I have not seen in a decade or more. The years since our ordination have been a time of real growth. I cannot help but look back on these years and see the efforts we have made, but also notice how those efforts are dwarfed by the grace of God that has been providentially guiding us and leading the way. This weekend, let us all look at our own lives and notice the places where God’s grace has been at work, where we have cooperated with that grace, and where the Lord is inviting us to a deeper receptivity to his gifts that are always being poured out.