Grace to you!
Do you sometimes wonder why God's word doesn't seem to grow in the hearts of many who receive it? Do you want the word of God you have received to grow and bear much fruit? I have a few suggestions, inspired by the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15).
1. Allow the Word to be sown: God's word has to be sown in our hearts first before it can germinate, grow, and produce fruit. Scripture says, "faith comes by hearing" (Romans 10:17).
The word of God is sown in many ways. They include the following: By reading God's word in Scripture, listening to God's Word during liturgical celebrations. It can also be planted during a faith-sharing discussion, casual Godly interactions with people, or reading spiritual literature. With modern means of communication, many media provide faith-based resources too. Reading or listening to them could feed us with God's word and make us disposed to grow and mature in faith, thereby producing fruit. Therefore, first, reach out to occasions of God's word. I call this "being in the zone of God's word."
2. Guard and Protect the Word: God's word, which you have received, is a treasure, and you have to guard it as you protect your treasure. Borrowing Saint Paul's line: "It is a treasure in clay" (2 Cor 4:7). Though the word is powerful, it would not force itself to make a home in your heart. It demands your freedom to guard it.
You guard the word against the deceiver, whose goal is to mislead and make you ignore the word's relevance. The devil's deceptions come through subtle but powerful ways. Among them include sowing the seed of doubt, the "it doesn't matter" attitudes, and worldliness—convincing us that our lifestyle doesn't matter in terms of our faith in God's word, plus other deceitful innuendos. Guard against deceit. The Blessed Lord Jesus says: "The devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts…" (Lk 8:12)
3. Have Roots: Just like the tree, the roots are the networks to nutrition. Without roots, there will be no nutrients for the tree. Our roots are the network with believers, and our network with the means of spiritual nutrition and strength, namely the sacraments.
Similarly, because God's word isn't simply an individual affair or merely an intellectual process, it must be incarnated. For us Christians, the word of God is Jesus, the Divine Logos. It is the Eternal and Incarnate Word. This Word took flesh in the womb of a woman (the Blessed Virgin Mary) and dwelt among us, not merely as individuals, but ultimately as his body, the Church. God's Word is rooted in his body, the Church. So, for the word you receive to be planted on fertile, not the rocky ground where it has no root, you have to cultivate it in the community of faith, the Church.
It is in the Church, through the Liturgy, that God's word is essentially rooted and takes root in the hearts of believers. Be part of the Church where the word is well-rooted, especially during the Eucharist. The faith of the Christian community enriches your faith too.
4. Think God: As God's word takes root and matures in your life, and as you nourish it in the Church, never lose sight of where your mind should always be—focused on God. Be absorbed in the things of God and the spiritual life. Worldliness is a severe parasite to the fruitfulness of God's word in our lives. The Blessed Lord reminds us that "the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life" could choke God's word and cause them not to produce fruit (See Luke 8:14). Hence, we should always be aware of the sources of worldliness and block them off our spiritual radar.
5. Live Godly: Just like any human realities, for the word of God to mature and produce fruit in our lives, we have to live it day in and day out. The fruitfulness of God's word occurs not at a time or a specific moment but through the course of our living the life of the gospel. For those in Christ and who live the life of Christ, every day is a fruit of joy. It radiates like a full moon and exudes like a pleasant fragrance for all to perceive.
You know you live the life through and through (the ideal) when you wouldn't need to dichotomize your life in the church and your life elsewhere. It has to be the same person all through. The heart is the same, and the mind is the same. Such a life bears much fruit—namely, the fruit of righteousness like joy, peace, love, kindness, etc. It also produces the fruits of evangelization, such as inspiring other people's faith-journey.
Allow God's word in your heart, guard it jealously, and be rooted. Always thinking Godly thoughts and living the life of Christ, you will see how your spiritual life would mature and produce abundant fruits, thanks to God's grace.
I pray you mature and bear fruits, fruits of the gospel. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Saturday Week 24
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.