The fertility of good soil in March produces the fruitful blossoms of July. So, too, is our life in Christ. The fertile ‘good soil’ of our heart provides bountiful fruit on this pilgrimage to everlasting life. The Mass readings for the 14th and 15th Sundays in Ordinary Time illuminate the abundanct life in the Spirit of God as we strive to be fertile and fruitful disciples of Jesus.  

Fertile rest  

The prophet Zechariah shares a message from God to the Israelites. There is great rejoicing in the promise of a savior who will come to restore the land, the people and ultimately the temple, culminating in a land filled with peace. The savior will fight for what is morally right and fair (just), according to the law of God, while placing the good of others as precedence (meekness). He will come to destroy war and proclaim peace over all the world. This is the king of all kings, the one whom we praise his name, his life, his mercy. This Lord, as the psalmist writes, is, “… gracious, merciful, slow to anger, great in kindness … good to all, compassionate, faithful, lifts those who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down” before him (Ps 145: 1-14). The promised savior, we know, is Jesus Christ.  

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

St. Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Romans, “We are dwelling places of the Spirit of the Lord, as we are body/soul beings. This is the same Holy Spirit who raised our savior from the dead” (Rom 8:9-13). The Lord Jesus Christ, whom we are united to in baptism, unites us with the father and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life. St. Paul pulls us into the reality that if we live according to the Spirit, we will have life. We rejoice in the sharing of life in Christ.  

Thus, Jesus issues this invitation, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:25-30).  

Jesus invites us to follow him with childlike trust, listen to his words, and share them with those we meet. The more we adhere to the word of God, the greater the rest we find in him. There is fertility in rest, praising the Lord, my king and God (Ps 145).  

Fruitful  

Openness to the word of God correlates with the fruitfulness of discipleship. First, we are called to realize the purposefulness and impact of God’s word, as testified by the prophet Isaiah (Is 55:10-11). There is intentionality from every utterance of God that “waters” the earth with transforming power. The psalmist reiterates, “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest” (Ps 65). The key phrases are “good ground” and “a fruitful harvest.” Is my heart “good ground” to receive the word of God and work for “a fruitful harvest” for the glory of God? Jesus is the word of God who waters the earth. St. John proclaims, “And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).  

The seed is the word of God, and Christ is the sower (Lk 8:11). The human heart is where the seed is sown. The parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-23) explains scenarios of where seed landed and the result: seed on the path is bird food; seed on the rocky ground with little soil sprang up without taking root and was scorched by the hot sun; seed upon thorns became choked; and seed on the good soil produced abundant grain for a plentiful harvest.  

As the word of God is “sown” in my heart, what happens? Is my heart a flat path, where the word will be easily consumed by the distraction of evil? Does my heart fill with joy in coming to know Jesus, yet fails under the pressures, delights and temporaries of what the world sows? Is my heart good soil, where the truth of Jesus Christ comes forth in abundance?  

From the hearts of those who are open, obedient, rooted and responsive to the word of God pours forth the abundance of fertile and fruitful discipleship. Guided by the Holy Spirit may the eternal word of God take firm root in our hearts, and in, turn, through our call to missionary activity, bear abundant fruit of mercy, kindness, goodness, compassion, faithfulness, sacrifice and peace to all people.  

Dow is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.