Body and Blood of Christ

Lectio

Drinking Well

 

THIRTY, SIXTY AND A HUNDRED TO ONE

          

    Jesus said to the people, "Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!"

‘You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path.
The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once.
The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing.


And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundred fold, now sixty, now thirty." (Mt 13: 18-23)

Lectio

Can you remember something in the Bible that touched you deeply? It may have been a verse of a psalm or a story in the Gospels. You may not consider yourself well-versed in the Bible and you may not have read very much of it, yet that verse or story remains in your memory. At a particular time in your life, these words may have kept you going, gave you hope or guided you. Like the seeds Jesus spoke about in a parable, they produced a rich harvest.
They may be well known words like: ‘Always treat others as you would like them to treat you,’ or ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I can want,’ or the words of Jesus, ‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.’ They may be stories like The Prodigal Son or The Good Samaritan. Or they may be less known words. The late and much-loved Archbishop of Port-of-Spain, Anthony Pantin, often quoted five words from one of the Letters of St. Paul: ‘It is all God’s work.’ These words were precious to him. He knew that the work he was asked to was God’s work, and as long as he remembered this, he was able to trust in God and peacefully do the best that he could. When he celebrated his silver jubilee as archbishop, a reporter asked ‘How do you cope with all the challenges you face?’ He answered, ’I don’t, but I don’t worry about it anymore.’

They didn’t read the word but they lived it

There are many people who may not remember any verse or story, and who may never have opened the Bible to read it for themselves, yet they have built their whole lives on all that the Bible teaches about trust in God, love and mercy, justice and forgiveness. I think of the generations who went before us, who did not hear the words of the Bible in their own language when they went to Mass, but day by day, pondered the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as they said the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the Rosary. In this way the seed of God’s word produced a harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundred fold.

The word at work in a shanty town

It is not only in the lives of individuals that the word of God is fruitful. It is fruitful in whole communities too. On Easter Sunday, Newstalk Radio broadcast a programme about Jim Crowe, a priest from Clonlara, Co. Clare. He has worked for the past thirty years in a vast shanty town called Jardim Angela in a suburb of Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 1996 a United Nations Agency considered it one of the most violent places in the world, with a huge number of murders each year. Jim worked with the local communities. They organised a March for Life and Peace that brought 300,000 people onto the streets to demand an end to the killings. They tackled problems of poverty, injustice and education. A community police force was set up which strives to be free from corruption and works with the community to solve its problems. Jardim Angela is no longer on United Nations agency’s list of violent places. We may be sure that this is an on-going struggle as God’s word of justice and peace is bearing rich fruit.

The word in the valley of darkness

Sometimes the person who lives the word of God and challenges others with it, pays a high price. Shabbaz Bhatti lived in Islamabad in Pakistan. He was a devout Catholic and a man of prayer. He loved Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd, especially in later years when his life was in danger; he found strength in the lines: ‘If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil will I fear; you are there with your crook and your staff, with these you give me comfort.’ Having grown up in a minority Christian community, he was keenly aware of the rights of minority groups. He was a natural leader and at the age of 34 was elected a member of the National Assembly. He was the first Christian to become a Federal Government minister; he was appointed as Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs in 2008.
At the time, he said that he accepted the post for the sake of the "oppressed, down-trodden and marginalized" of Pakistan, and that he had dedicated his life to the "struggle for human equality, social justice, religious freedom, and to uplift and empower religious minorities' communities.’ He also committed himself to reforming the country's blasphemy laws. He launched a national campaign to promote interfaith harmony. He received death threats when he spoke in support of Pakistani Christians attacked in the 2009. These threats increased when he supported a Christian woman sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy. In response to these threats he said, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us, and I am ready to die for a cause. I'm living for my community ... and I will die to defend their rights.’ He was shot and killed on his way to work on 2 March 2011. He was 42 years old. When martyrs die for living by the word of God, sooner or later that word bears fruit, thirty, sixty and a hundred fold.

                                                                                    Brendan Clifford
 

 

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