Faith lights up all the faculties of a person, as light inside reveals the pattern of a stained-glass window. For faith is far more than the passive acquiescence to a proof; it is a dynamic thing accompanied by an intense desire for the possession of God as author and finisher of our life
Fulton J. Sheen Lift up your Heart
Christianity has, of late, not looked terribly good in the eyes of the world and the media. If we were to believe what is said of us, it would appear that we are obsessed by matters of gender and sex: the ordination of women, clergy in civil partnerships and the proposed redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. In the eyes of the world we are wrong, we are completely out of touch, and we need to conform ourselves and the Church to the ways of the world. We cannot, I would suggest, allow this to happen; we need instead to stand up and be counted, proclaiming a truth rooted in Scripture and the Tradition of the Church even if it means that we appear foolish in the eyes of the world: for our faith is foolishness and a stumbling block, but the foolishness of God is wiser than men.
In this morning’s Gospel we have St Luke’s account of the parable of the Sower and its explanation – Jesus is showing us what the Church and the Proclamation of the Gospel look like in practice. He uses an agricultural image which is as clear to us today as it was two thousand years ago. It’s designed to be transparent, it isn’t complicated, but it does not necessarily make for terribly easy reading. The sower casts out a great deal of seed, and not all of it even lands on soil. Even when it does it necessarily lead to much – the plants bolt and die or are choked by weeds. Only a few seeds grow up into healthy plants, which produce a wonderful harvest, even an hundredfold.
There are people, who are initially very enthusiastic about the Christian Faith, but who quickly lose interest; others find themselves distracted by the cares of the world, by their riches, and the enticements of pleasure. This reminds us of the salutary fact that living the Christian life is not easy: things get in the way, we get distracted, it is a huge struggle and if we were just left to our own devices then we, generally speaking, are not terribly good at resisting. So what do we do? We need to rely upon God as our help and strength, and also to support each other as we grow together in a community of faith and love, helping each other, through God’s grace, to resist the ways of sin and the world.
Only a few plants produce a great deal of seed – the Church grew from a small but committed community of faith gathered around Our Lord and the Twelve Apostles. Instead of hearts hardened by superficialities or worldly preoccupations, they display hearts which are open, open to the God who loves them, to the God who heals them, and to the God who saves them, who shed his blood on the Cross for their sake and ours, to take away their sin. They are people who trust God, and who live lives which proclaim God’s saving truth regardless of the cost to themselves, gladly laying down their lives to serve the truth which sets them free. They then reap a harvest of billions of souls saved over the past two thousand years; and we are called to be like them, to live lives like theirs, to trust like them, to be fearless in our proclamation of the Gospel, supporting each other in our lives and in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and in deed, so that the world may believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory dominion and power, now and forever