Come back, disloyal children – it is the Lord who speaks – for I alone am your Master. I will take one from a town, two from a clan, and bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and these shall feed you on knowledge and discretion. And when you have increased and become many in the land, then – it is the Lord who speaks – no one will ever say again: Where is the ark of the covenant of the Lord? There will be no thought of it, no memory of it, no regret for it, no making of another. When that time comes, Jerusalem shall be called: The Throne of the Lord; all the nations will gather there in the name of the Lord and will no longer follow the dictates of their own stubborn hearts.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’
“I shall give you shepherds after my own heart, who will pasture you wisely and discreetly.”
In today’s Gospel, we read of a familiar passage, the parable of the sower. Maybe we can use this opportunity to realise how we have been receiving God’s Word.
It’s also quite amazing how God’s Word is compared to a seed that is sown and not a ripe fruit that we can simply digest in order to reap its benefits and goodness.
In our world today where we look for instant gratification, immediate pleasure and resolution, we wonder where is God and what does His Word mean? Many times, it seems that even the priest fails to preach a good homily for us to take back something tangible. “It’s not our fault that we find it difficult to grow in our faith, because it seems that ‘our shepherds’ are not providing us with the platforms for us to receive those seeds and allow them to grow.
The reality is maybe ‘our shepherds’ can be better at pasturing, but we too can be better in desiring the message that God has for each and every one of us. We will know best how to nurture this seed that God has given us. And yes, it is a seed, it will need time and the conditions for it to grow, to bear fruit and thereafter, multiply.
Many times we fall into the trap of finding trees that have grown and matured, just simply eating from the fruit of those trees. Looking at demand and supply, it wouldn’t be long before there just isn’t enough to go around anymore. And while the sower will be able to provide for himself still, those who simply just latch on, or find the easy way out, will suddenly feel deprived and feel like ‘our shepherds’ or God aren’t providing.
Today, we know that we are given this seed and we can choose what we want to do with it. Alternatively, we can always depend on the fruits of others, and truthfully, may not even be the fruit that will satisfy our innermost desires to complete our lives. Today, let us not keep this seed in our pockets but plant it, work on it, protect it, love it so that it can grow, that it can live, that in turn can provide and multiply.
May this seed be the relationships we have with our loved ones, especially with you our Father and eventually, with the whole world. May this seed be a testimony of not just your love for us, but our love for you. “I shall give you shepherds after my own heart, who will pasture you wisely and discreetly.” Help us to grow this seed, to build your kingdom and for your will to be done.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for perseverance, for patience, for commitment, dedication. Above all, we pray for a renewed encounter with you. Help us on this journey where we are bombarded with so many wrong values, interpretations and definitions of what is life and what is love. Help us to always look to you as the one true example and definition.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for all the shepherds you have sent our way. Help us to bring out the best in our shepherds and also for us to be shepherds to others.