I have heard a few homilies, including my own, reflecting on the readings from today. These homilies almost always strive to explain these parables (with their farming motif) to urge the people understand that God can do wondrous things, and does. That He can take our small and seemingly awkward actions and allow them to grow into glorious witnesses of the Kingdom. And this of course is very true.
But this afternoon, I was hit with another aspect of these parables. I was reading the Holy Father’s Lectio Divina reflection on part of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans; given to Roman seminarians back in February. During this reflection he commented on Christ speaking to us. He said “..he does not only appeal to our morality and our will, but also to the Grace that is in us, an appeal to us to let Grace act. It is, as it were, an action in which the Grace given to us at Baptism becomes active within us, it must be active within us; thus Grace, the gift of God, and our cooperation go hand in hand.”
This put the parable of the farmer and the parable of the mustard seed into a new light and more personal light. The first seed, our initial cultivation, should be allowing the gift of God, Grace; that is within us, to grow and flourish – and then not only does our witness become stronger; but our growth and those around us become holier.
But the Holy Father’s words also put something Father Matt said this morning into bright and clear focus. He was commenting on homilies; he said that we seem to have lost the Catholic vocabulary, which in turn, diminishes our ability to understand God’s message. He pointed out, as an example, that homilists generally don’t use the word ‘Grace’ … and because of that it moves the homily’s point of view more to the imminent and reduces the transcendent. It moves the people hearing the homily to reflect on a personal and almost psychological level instead of understanding themselves as part of the eternal and divine work of salvation. It makes our actions more sociological and less spiritual.
For us to grow, for sake of our and everyone’s salvation, we need to cultivate the field within us and let God’s Grace animate us from within first; then our actions of love without will flow from it. And we need to recapture the ability to speak and think the language of God.