Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9
I’ve heard that if someone waits more than four seconds for your website to load, there’s a 25% chance the person will skip it entirely. When there’s a line at Starbucks, we tap our foot. When the subway is delayed, our eyes repeatedly flick to our watches. When the tinny “all circuits are busy now” chirps in our ear for the fifteenth time, we grit our teeth and debate hanging up. When the promised reward is slow in coming, we don’t like to wait.
On a larger scale, we can see the same impatience for change. Hasty to fulfill campaign promises, the Republicans brought their healthcare bill to the House floor without a guarantee of support and now, as a result, move forward more hesitantly. Of course, all earthly leaders face the same scrutiny. Whatever side of the aisle, we want our promises fulfilled. And we don’t like waiting.
This week’s readings understand. From the first reading to the Gospel, we see the theme of promise and awaiting its fulfillment. The first reading is from the prophet Isaiah, who speaks of the word of God going forth like the rain to water the earth. The psalmist praises God who “visited the land and watered it” and whose paths “overflow with a rich harvest” (Ps 65:10, 12). In the second reading, St. Paul recognizes that all creation is waiting in hope. The Gospel shares the parable of the sower and the seed, in which seeds fall on different types of soil to varying results.
American culture has largely moved away from the agrarian society of Jesus’ day. But farmers understand something McDonald’s doesn’t. Change takes time. New growth doesn’t spring up overnight. At my parents’ home in Minnesota, three pine trees line the side of their house. We used to take photos next to them on the first day of school. I had an early growth spurt and, in many of the photos, I stand taller than the trees. Now the pines soar higher than the house. Growth takes time.
We know the waiting isn’t easy. St Paul compares it to the labor pains of a pregnant mother! There’s good news in all of this. As impatient as we get in everyday life, as disappointed as we become from unmet expectations, our hope lies elsewhere. Ultimately, our hope rests neither with a timely cup of coffee nor the person in the White House. Our hope is in the One who sows the seed, who waters it with care, and who produces abundant fruit.
Every day we have the opportunity to renew our hope in God. Every day we have the choice to cultivate the seed of his word in our hearts through prayer, reading Scripture, and acts of charity to others. Every day we can trust him to provide the grace we need in our journey toward hope’s fulfillment in heaven.
Our God’s promise will “not return to [him] void,” but is always moving, and “achieving the end for which [he] sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). So let us rejoice in hope!
Heavenly Father, I come before you today in need of hope.
I give you the moments I feel helpless.
I give you the moments I fear you won’t provide.
I give you the moments I grasp for control of my life.
You are the sower of the seed.
May my heart be fertile soil!
I want to receive your grace with open hands.
Send forth your Holy Spirit like rain to water the field of my life.
Jesus, your promise of new life is my hope!
I await the growth of your promise in this life
and its true fulfillment in the next.