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How the Upcoming Gospels Teach of the Kingdom

Editor’s note – this article was originally written before the Sunday readings of 7/12/20

For the next three Sundays, the Church’s Gospel will tap Chapter 13 of St. Matthew, which contains five parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew, as a devout Jew, prefers to speak of the “Kingdom of Heaven” rather than the “Kingdom of God”). As we read these three Gospels, we should not lose sight of their unity.

The “Kingdom of Heaven” is, after all, our goal. “God created me to know, love, and serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him in the next,” taught the Baltimore Catechism. And, as Our Lord asks, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

For Jesus, the Kingdom is the goal. Reaching it is the success of one’s life; not attaining it, one’s failure. That’s why Jesus even seems in one place (the parable of the wicked steward who cooks his master’s books) seems to endorse cutting corners to reach it. Jesus really doesn’t, but asks us to think: if people are willing to cut corners for merely temporal benefits, why are they so indifferent to the Kingdom?

For the next three weeks, the Gospels focus on different aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven. How do people receive it? How does it grow in this world? And what’s worth doing to reach it?

This week, the Gospel focuses on the Parable of the Sower. The sower goes out into the field with a bag of seed. The fate of the seeds is the Gospel focus. Some falls on rocks and stones and never grows. Some falls on poor ground, starts growing but never takes solid root. Some lands on ground that hasn’t been weeded and so gets choked off amidst other vegetation. Some germinates on good soul but, even there, the harvest is different, from average to extraordinary. All the seed has potential, but the surrounding conditions affect it. Once upon a time, Catholics also examined their conscience in terms of friends, associates, and “occasions of sin” (and grace) to see how these helped or hindered their spiritual life. Environment matters: spiritual ecology is important, too.

Jesus explains the parable with the soil representing different human souls in which the seed of God’s Word falls. Some stony hearts never allow the seed to sprout. Some are superficial, the “fair weather friend” that never acquires the depth needed to survive inevitable trials and tests. Some are willing to let the Word of God grow, as long as it does not demand much of the other things I love; when He does, those other things choke him off. But even where the seed finds good ground, the richness and fertility of that ground varies. The ground of our souls is love and, based on that ground’s soil nutrient analysis, its spiritual nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, will we yield harvest 30-, 60-, or 100-fold.

Read more at National Catholic Register

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