Rich Soil and Sacramental Grace
September 16th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel, we hear the Parable of the Sower. Jesus tells of a sower whose seeds land on a path, on rocky ground, among thorns, and on good soil. None but the last group of seeds produce fruit, and they do so “a hundredfold.”
To His disciples, Jesus explained that the seeds on the path are they whom the devil claims, turning them away from God and leading them to Hell. The seeds on the rocky ground are souls who initially are filled with zeal for the Faith, but when temptation arises, lose this zeal and fall away. The thorns are the joys and sorrows of life; the seeds that are choked by thorns signify those souls who allow the things of the world — be they good or bad — to weaken or even extinguish their faith.
Because we are born with Original Sin, our souls are never immediately rich soil. We need the saving graces of Baptism to bring our souls into God’s grace, and even after that, we must struggle all our lives to resist temptation and sin in order to preserve our baptismal innocence. In the words of St. Augustine, we need to “turn up with the plough the hard ground, cast the stones out of the field, pluck up the thorns out of it” (St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 23 on the New Testament, § 3).
It is possible for us to become rich soil and yield good fruit for the Divine Harvester, but we cannot do it alone. We need God’s grace to sustain us: He alone can help us resist being carried away by the devil. His grace assists us in digging up the rocks — or habitual sins and sinful attachments — in our lives; He gives us the strength to endure the trials of this life and remain ever focused on Him and the attainment of salvation.
He does this through the Sacraments of the Church. Baptism gives us a new life of grace, but this grace is marred and even lost by sin throughout our lives. However, in His mercy, God has given us the Sacrament of Confession to restore the life of grace in our souls when we have lost it through mortal sin, and to heal that which has been sullied through venial sin. The Sacrament of Confirmation gives the soul the grace to defend our Faith and resist temptation courageously, as soldiers of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Our Lord gives us His own Body and Blood through the Holy Eucharist in the Mass. The Eucharist is the Bread of Life about which Jesus spoke so often in the Gospels; It fills us with infinite graces and nourishes our souls, drawing us ever closer to our Redeemer. All of the Sacraments strengthen the soul to resist the lures of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
May we pray today and always that God will give us the graces we need for our souls to become rich soil, in order that we may bear good fruit and lead many souls to Him.