Sunday, July 6, 2014

Seed That Will Bear Fruit

This weeks gospel is about the parable of the sower. It is familiar to most Christians. There are 4 kinds of soil. The word of God is sowed on all 4 but only one bears fruit. It is encouraging and discouraging at the same time. It tells us many will reject the word. Even among those who accept God's word and respond with great joy many will not last. The word will die because they are not willing to do what it takes to actually bear fruit. Yet that last group is amazing. They say Yes to the word. They take that word deep in their hearts. They endure persecution. They sacrifice the pleasures of this world. Then they bear fruit. Boy do they ever bear fruit. It says thirty, sixty and one hundred fold. 

What can we take from this? My first thought is that we should not be afraid to demand a lot from Catholics. To many people are afraid that if you demand to much people will leave. Yet that is what is supposed to happen. Jesus expects great things from the good soil. I wonder if we are not so focused on not offending the thorny and rocky soil we fail to get anything from the good soil. 

What does fruit look like? The obvious fruit is that of children. We were just at a Catholic conference where there were a lot of big families. It makes me wonder how the church should handle that issue. John Paul II mentioned that most married couples should expect to have at least 3 kids. There will be some who don't but they should be the exception. 

I think that might be something to put out there. Right now it seems like you go NFP and the pressure is on to have way more than three. It scares people. I also wonder about the discernment. People think having a larger family is God's will. Often they are right. Yet if having three or four is the holy thing to do it does not follow that more and more continues to be holier and holier. I know. I should not talk because I have six. I just wonder of we have split Catholics. Families with one or two kids on one side and families with five or more on the other. 

It seems like there is a sweet spot in between where most couples can handle three. They should feel that using NFP to limit it to that is going to be accepted. It is like you are in no-man's land with three. Some people can't believe you kept going after you had a bot and a girl. Some people think three is a good start but you are not a real Catholic until you have five. Yet lots of couples do have serious reasons to stop at three or four. There is no shame i it. Money can get tight. Stress levels can go up. Not everyone does the big family thing well. 

I know this is the opposite of the "demand more" thing I talked about. It might not be. Don't just demand a random more. Demand the actual thing the faith requires. The faith demands a greater openness to life than we see in the culture. It does not demand irresponsible decisions. Yes the demands of the faith should really be demands. To do that we need to disconnect that choice from the choice to have ten kids. It is not in many people's minds and I can see why. 

Of course we can bear fruit in many ways other than having children. When we don't sterilize our love sexually we remain spiritually fertile as well. Evangelism is the area that would have been obvious during my protestant days. Literally sowing God's word in other people's lives. The first reading says clearly that God's word is powerful. We should know it well and speak it fearlessly. 

Even that is just the beginning. There is so much opportunity in a typical parish. Often they have hundreds of ministries. Find some that work for you. Then there are friendships. Your fruit needs to reflect who you are and who God is. How do you like to communicate? Don't and preach if that is not who you are. Find some way of bringing God in that fits you style. Friends especially are not going to respond to anything that is not authentically you. They love you and will tend to resent any religion that replaces you with Mr Evangelist. Yet if it is truly you and truly God then it can work really well. Still no promises they become fruit-bearers but you will feel fully alive. 

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