THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Monday, February 22nd
Read Matthew 13:1-23.
“Let anyone with ears listen!”
Matthew 13:9 (NRSV)
God’s good word of love, guidance, and mercy is generously sown everywhere through a variety of ways. In the parable of the sower, Jesus uses rich symbolism to show us how God’s word is a seed, promising and filled with potential, but the places where it lands are not always conducive for growth. He ends with the instruction to Let our ears listen to this word of God! This is our spiritual invitation for today.
I know I have been like all these different soils at various times in my life…
Some of the seed falls on the well-worn path, where birds quickly snatch the seed away. The path speaks to me of normalcy; our usual routes, our regular paths that we routinely walk without much thought for new possibilities. When we are comfortable like this, we may receive the Word but have no motivation to absorb it or to change our ways, and soon it vanishes from our thoughts.
The rocky ground is described as shallow soil filled with stones, where the word may be received with joy but cannot form roots. When trouble comes, the seed quickly dies. Perhaps the stones are like the obstacles and hurdles that keep us from letting God’s word deepen in our souls. Some of our obstacles might be our busy lives, our daily cares, our inner doubts. We feel blessed by God’s loving word, but then another trial or hurdle comes our way, and soon we are more focused on the rocks than the seeds of goodness around us.
The image of thorns describes the distractions and cares of our world. Thorns bring to mind attention-getters that snag us away from the word, such as the desire for success, the fear of scarcity, the concern for our image, the stress of careers or other responsibilities. We receive the seed and it begins to root, but these thorns creep in again to choke our tender sprouts so they wither and die.
Finally, there is the good soil, where the word is heard, accepted, and bears much fruit. What makes good soil in us? Our good soil needs the nutrients of prayer and reading, the waters of refreshing gratitude and joy. Our good soil needs the aeration of quiet, open spaces to breathe. Our good soil even includes the breaking down as compost those things that are no longer useful for us.
When Jesus explains why he speaks in parables, he refers to Isaiah (44:18), “They do not know, nor do they comprehend; for their eyes are shut, so that they cannot see, and their minds as well, so that they cannot understand.” This brings to mind another Let verse in which Jesus tells his disciples to listen.
In Luke 9, Jesus has just healed a young man by freeing him of an unclean spirit. While everyone is amazed and astonished at what Jesus has just accomplished, he turns to his disciples and says, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.”1 This seems like such an odd statement in his moment of miracles and awe. Of course, the disciples did not understand, but they didn’t even question his words. In fact, in the very next verses we read about the argument between them as to which of them was the greatest.
Jesus’s truth-telling came between conversations of “Look what Jesus can do for us!” and “What can he do for me?” We love to absorb the glory and the miracles. We want to hear about a right hand seat and the guaranteed favor. We eagerly hear the words of love, forgiveness, eternal life, and hope. We are not as comfortable hearing about sacrifice, pain, torture, or death. We would rather ignore words of warning, rebuke, teaching, or truth. But in the story of Jesus, every word is important. Every moment is part of it all.
What are the ways you find yourself distracted, missing the words of Jesus? What might God be trying to tell us today that we don’t want to hear? How do you hear Jesus finishing this sentence: “Listen! You need to hear this…”?
May God open our hearts and our ears to listen, and open our souls to absorb and nurture every seed of God’s good word.
The Bible reading for tomorrow is Luke 2:8-20.
1Luke 9:44 (NRSV)
Bible verses taken from BibleGateway.com