Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good Seed, Good Soil

Trust in the action of the Holy Spirit must always impel us to go and preach the Gospel, to the courageous witness of faith; but, in addition to the possibility of making a positive response to the gift of faith, there is also the risk of rejecting the Gospel, of not accepting the vital encounter with Christ. St Augustine was already posing this problem in one of his commentaries on the Parable of the Sower.

“We speak”, he said, “we cast the seed, we scatter the seed. There are those who deride us, those who reproach us, those who mock at us. If we fear them we have nothing left to sow and on the day of reaping we will be left without a harvest. Therefore may the seed in the good soil sprout” (Discourse on Christian Discipline, 13,14: PL 40, 677-678). Rejection, therefore, cannot discourage us. As Christians we are evidence of this fertile ground. Our faith, even with our limitations, shows that good soil exists, where the seed of the Word of God produces abundant fruits of justice, peace and love, of new humanity, of salvation. And the whole history of the Church, with all the problems, also shows that good soil exists, that the good seed exists and bears fruit.

Yet, let us ask ourselves: where can man find that openness of heart and mind to believe in God who made himself visible in Jesus Christ who died and Rose, to receive God’s salvation so that Christ and his Gospel might be the guide and the light of our existence? The answer: we can believe in God because he comes close to us and touches us, because the Holy Spirit, a gift of the Risen One, enables us to receive the living God. Thus faith is first of all a supernatural gift, a gift of God.

General Audience, 24 October 2012

Reflection – Well, last time I took the Pope’s invitation to stop and ponder the reality of the rejection of the Gospel in the modern world. Now we have his own short reflection on the matter in this general audience.

So the key point for him is hope. Yes, many people have decided, for whatever reasons, that Christianity or religion is unnecessary or unacceptable to them. But many have not. Many are searching for some deeper meaning in life, some deeper purpose to what is going on around us in the world, some way of engaging life in its tragedies and challenges.

Christianity has, for 2000 years, provided a rich and life-giving way of doing just that. And many people are, all over the world, coming to receive the Good News as if it is fresh news, a new revelation of God, undiminished and unfaded by the centuries.

This is one of the great joys of life in Madonna House. We have the great privilege of journeying with hundreds of people, mostly rather young, as they learn or rediscover the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Gospel of Christ and of the Catholic faith. So we do get to see here that the seed is good indeed and that there is indeed good soil in the world.

In other words, the Spirit is still moving over the face of the earth, and it is lovely to see. It is lovely to see new hope, new joy, new life, new love being sparked in the eyes and faces of so many young people from all over the world who come to share our MH life for a week, a month, a year.

And of course we have to remember that what we experience in North America and Europe—a growing tide of secularism and indifference or hostility to religion—is not the global picture at all. Christianity has exploded in Africa in the past century, and continues to do so today. China has more baptized Christians now than America. There is good seed and good soil all over the world in this year of 2012; we have no reason to be discouraged.
So, let’s keep putting the Gospel out there, each according to our gifts and station in life. Personal friendship, works of mercy, words of truth and hope, commitment of life to the love of God and neighbour—all the ordinary-extraordinary ways of casting the seed to the four winds, to the One Wind of the Spirit who alone can make our lives fruitful and bring faith into the hearts of men today. So let’s do our little part for and with Him.

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