Take Care to Guard

greed

Today’s Gospel comes from Luke 12:13-21. The words that have been with me all day are “Take care to guard against all greed.” “Greed,” according to Dictionary.com means “intense and selfish desire for something.”

These words, spoken by Jesus so long ago, have come to me at the perfect moment. I needed His gentle counsel with regards to a particular area of my life. I prayed for help with this. Here is His answer: His beautiful Word.

I have not been tempted towards money or material goods, as is the man described in this Gospel passage and parable, but in another way, also another powerful but deadly temptation. Truly, it’s one that surprises me, because I naively thought I would never have this particular temptation, and yet, here it is. I did not try to hide it from the Lord, but entrusted it to Him, and prayed about it, and tried not to become disturbed when my mind has returned to it often. When I become aware of it, I simply bring it back to Jesus in prayer. And then, today, He speaks to me gently about it. Take care to guard your heart. It is precious. Take care.

How do I take care? Through prayer. Through vigilance. Through the Word of God. Through having recourse to our Blessed Mother. Through fasting and self denial. Through avoiding tempting situations as much as possible. Take care. Store up riches that are important to God, which are the virtues.

I noticed the rich man in the parable does not seem to consider God at all. “He asked himself,” Jesus says, “He said to himself,” etc. When did he ask for God’s input? He didn’t. He was totally self centered, i.e., centered on himself, his own desires, his own agenda. This is greed, is it not? We all are tempted towards this. When we become aware of it, we need to mindfully and purposefully re-direct our thoughts, actions, and wills towards God. “Take care.” “Guard.”

We guard something that is precious. Our life with Jesus is precious. Our riches that we store up for God are precious. Let us take care to guard them, with the help of Jesus, our Savior, who does not leave us alone in our temptations.

Jesus, I trust in You!

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Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening

the sower vince van gogh
Sower with Setting Sun by Vincent van Gogh

See Today’s Mass Readings here.

In today’s first reading, we hear the prophet Isaiah proclaim that God’s word goes forth from His mouth and effects what it says, and it does not return to Him void. Just as when He created and said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, so it remains today. This is what is amazing about the Sacraments. In Reconciliation, God says we are forgiven, and so it is. In the Eucharist, God says, “This is my body; This is my blood,” and so it is, the bread and wine are transformed. His Word does not return to Him void. It achieves His will.

Think about Jesus as the Word of God. He goes forth from the Father, accomplishes His will, and does not return to Him void. His miracles, and especially His resurrection, give testimony to the fact that His word effects what He says. He says, “Be healed,” and those who received His word were healed. He said He would rise on the third day, and so it happened.

Now consider the Gospel reading, Matthew’s account of Jesus’s parable of the sower. The sower went out to sow, and scattered the seeds carelessly and liberally. Seed was not cheap! Yet, he did not seem to be calculating or hold back, but spread it around on all kinds of soil, hoping to yield fruit where, humanly speaking, this would not even be possible. This tells us about God, does it not? He sends rain and sun on the just and the unjust. His grace is undeserved, and freely given. He does not give it only to those who are thankful, or generous in sharing it. That’s how we are; that’s not how God thinks.

Now look at the soil. This is us.┬áLet us truly examine whether we are that good soil, and do what is needed to prepare our hearts to be good soil for God’s word to take effect. God’s word indeed goes out, but if the soil is not prepared, it simply will not bear fruit in our lives. However, if it is, the results are incredible. At first, they are not perceivable, but then they grow exponentially.

How do we prepare the soil? We prepare the soil through prayer, through good works, and through avoiding sin. Then when we receive God’s Word, whether it be through Scripture reading/meditation, the Sacraments, through prayer, through encountering Him in nature — in whatever way He comes to us — that soil is rich and ready to receive the seed. And if we continue to prepare the soil, new seeds during new planting seasons will always produce new harvests.

When hearing the Word today, I prayed that I would be very rich soil, ready to receive the seed and produce good fruit for God’s kingdom. I feel the Lord even now at work in my life, and I pray that I will be faithful to that work, faithful in prayer, in listening, in responding with openness to Him first. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with fear, or to have cares, busyness and anxiety choke out His Word. When we don’t give time for prayer, this quickly happens. However, when we do, and respond in silence, reverence and awe, saying, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” we truly can only wonder at the ever increasing gifts and blessings the Lord unfolds in our lives. Our lives with God are like an upward spiral, continually coming back around to the same places, but at different levels, and we can see from different vantage points the same issues He wants to heal in us, and blessings He wants to impart. Yes, let us be open to receive everything He desires to give in His Word. Let us have awe and wonder at His marvels at work in our lives.

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Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10