Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Recently I had a conversation with a lady standing beside our produce garden and she mentioned how the tomatoes in general “aren’t as good and juicy this year as last.” Others throughout the summer have made similar comments, as the crop has been so-so in places due to the variable weather conditions this summer. There are of course several factors that contribute to harvesting good quality fruits and vegetables and Jesus uses this same principal through a parable when speaking of how the Word of God will truly bear good fruit in our own lives. The surrounding conditions are vital!
In explaining the parable to his disciples Jesus gives three reasons on why the “soil” for receiving God’s Word is often not fertile, certain outside factors affect our receptivity to God’s Word. He lists them as the following: the devil, the flesh, and the world. In Christian theology, these are typically known as the three enemies to the soul. Think about it...we hopefully read and listen to God’s Word daily, but several surrounding conditions can often keep us from bearing good fruits. It is these three enemies of the soul that mess up our soil.
A little contemporary analysis of these enemies could look something like this: First off we are in a world that surrounds us with “bad influences.” The devil is a bad influence and one of his greatest accomplishments is to put us in the midst of “bad influences,” and time and again they steal the Word of God from our midst. It could be a friend, co-worker, neighbor, television show, movie, and entertainers that distract and keep from us what God desires for our growth. Secondly, the flesh. The flesh is often tempted towards a purpose that is not good or wholesome. As Jesus has said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This is the rocky ground we often walk on, our lives can lack roots in virtue and the flesh submits to whatever out of weakness. And lastly, we have another enemy to our souls, namely, the world. In the world we mean the fleeting fashions around us. The world or thorns as Jesus calls them offers us anxiety, riches, and pleasures which at most give us limited happiness, far from the lasting happiness which we deep down desire.
So how do we hear God’s Word and bear good fruit in our lives? Tend the soil of our souls by resisting bad influences, glorify the Lord with our flesh, and stay clear of the fleeting fashions of the world. Bearing good fruit comes from grace and an adequate response to our surroundings.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
What are some bad influences in your life?
Who has been a positive influence in your life and your relationship with God?
What good fruits do you see growing in your life and your relationship with God?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Surround me with good influences."
"Grant me courage to walk away from bad influences."
"Bear fruit through perseverance."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Start to take steps to cut out those bad influences in your life that are not leading you closer to God.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Fr. John McNamara, priest of the Diocese of Rockford.
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