Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some Seed Fell on Rich Soil

Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins.  But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.  Hebrews 10:11-13

Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.  And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.  It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”  He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”  Mark 4:7-9

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. 
(From “Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer: A Step Along The Way by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw) 

What is “effective?”  To what degree is something successful in producing a desired result?  How successful is an endeavor? 
Today our readings give us a time to reflect upon contrasting examples of “effectiveness.”
For thousands of years, the priests in the Hebrew Bible and ancient life offered daily sacrifices that were ineffectual in remitting sin.  Then, along comes Jesus of Nazareth, who offered a single sacrifice to redeem all sins throughout history.  That one single act won him a permanent place at God’s right hand.
The comparison of the sowers and the seeds also leads me to contemplate effectiveness.  A single sower plants many seeds but will not know which seeds will become fruit.  Like Jesus awaiting the final outcome of his work, the sower also awaits the growing season and final outcome of his work.

At a talk some years back, a speaker made the point that God does not call us to be efficient and effective.  God calls us to love.  Unceasingly.  However, if we put authentic love into action in God’s name, then we trust that will result in the desired effect.  Sometimes, we might know the outcome directly.  Other times, it might be years in the making…if we ever see any results.
Like the sower, we might know the conditions in which to plant seeds that have a better chance at thriving.  Avoid rocky soil.  Avoid deserts where there is not enough water.  Avoid places that do not get enough sun.  We can maximize our chances of success if we find the right conditions for our actions.
One of the Cursillo mantras comes to mind when I think of how we can be more effective at spreading the Good News.  Deacon Jack Ligon has a handy little guide to the Cursillo weekend meditations and talks.  In looking at the Sunday talk on “Study and Evangelization of Environment,” he uses the memory anchor that “we have to talk to God about people before we talk to people about God.”  That single prayer-filled step – taken before any action at changing the environment – is the ticket to setting off on a mission that might be more effective at sowing seeds of change.

“We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.”

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