Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 24 July 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.
Reflection for 24th July 2020. The Sower and the Seed
This text is very topical during this time. We came across the parable of the Sower and its explanation on the 15th Sunday i.e. 12th July and I put out a fairly substantial post on that day. Those who are interested can do a Facebook search and look it up. Today we have just the explanation of the parable and I want to highlight a few points. The first is that as a consequence of being close to Jesus, the disciples hear the explanation from Jesus himself. The syntax of first verse of today’s passage makes that abundantly clear. The word for “hear” is in the imperative form. The disciple has no choice. S/he has to listen with attention.
The seed sown on the edge of the path refers to those who do not listen with attention. At our liturgies we sometimes come across people paying attention to the person sitting next to them and in some cases even reading the bulletin while the Scriptures are being proclaimed. For example, when the Deacon reads from the Book of the Gospels, as proclaims: “There was a man who had two sons…”, many know that this is the story of the Prodigal Son and because they know how the story ends, stop paying attention. How can the word take root in such people? We have to train ourselves to listen to God’s word with fresh ears – and to listen to it anew each time. The word that falls on the edge of the path according to Jesus, cannot be understood. What’s more this leads to the Evil One becoming active and, as indicated in the original text, forcibly snatching the word from the person.
Next is the seasonal Christian who lacks depth and conviction. This is the person who hears the word and joyfully receives it. But not having any depth – or not being “rooted”, loses all conviction as soon as the storm breaks. Such a person loses faith when life becomes difficult. It might be interesting to stop and reflect on the use of the word root. Rooted and planted indicate firmness and unshakability. When Paul prays for the Ephesians he uses these terms. He prays for the Christians who have been rooted, and founded (or planted) in love. This is creation language and shows the deliberate action of God fashioning creation according to his own design. We see this clearly in Proverbs 8:22-31. In that text we also see the intimate connection between Creator and Creation. Without being rooted according to Jesus, the word of God cannot work in us and we miss out on the intimacy God desires to have with us.
The real prize belongs to the rooted person who listens with a prepared heart. This is the seed that falls into good ground. This person produces fruit – not always a hundred percent; sometimes thirty and at other times sixty. This is simply because none of us is perfect. And we do not have to wait for perfection in order to be obedient to the word of God. I wish you joy as you become obedient to the Divine Word. Then nothing will shake you. St Paul reminds us that whether we live or whether we die – we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:7) – so during this time with death all around us in the pandemic, let us show allegiance to the word.
Let us pray – and for the prayer I want to use text from St Paul: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in your inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.” Amen. [Blessing].
Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town