One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

July 21, 2010

For Wednesday of the Sixteenth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Matthew 13:1-9

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
A twist on that saying today could be, “Read my lips!”
This is the beginning of the thirteenth chapter of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
We’ll hear this whole chapter bit by bit over the next eight weekdays.
In this chapter the Lord tells several parables about the “Kingdom of Heaven.”
He tells how the Kingdom comes about among us now, and also how the Kingdom shall come in its fullness at the end of time.
Today in his Gospel he tells of seed, and later says it is the word of the Kingdom sown upon the soil of men’s hearts.
Each of us does best to make ready a heart of deep, rich soil, clearing it of weeds and rocks, so that the word of the Kingdom can bear fruit in us “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold,” he says.
Let us note that the sowing of the seed that is the word of the Kingdom is a work God in his graciousness does for us.
However, we can and must do the work of readying the soil of our hearts so that it is deep, rich, and free of weeds and rocks.
The work of getting ready is something anyone, even a pagan, can do without the grace of God.
The Church calls that the work of the natural or human virtues.
Without working these natural, human virtues, we fail to be ready to work with the supernatural virtues that come from God in his graciousness; we are not doing our part wholeheartedly, even though God does his.
We might take part regularly in Mass and the sacrament of Penance, we might pray regularly, and daily read Scripture and our lives alongside each other, but find ourselves in a spiritual rut.
If that is the lay of the land for us, then we do well to look at the nature of our land, the soil of our lives.
Do we know what the natural, human virtues are that clear out the weeds, the rocks, and ready us to be deep rich soil?
Four of the natural, human virtues make up the key, the heart, the kernel, the marrow, or the hinge— crucial, pivotal, cardinal.
The four [whose names show up together in the Book of Wisdom, 8:7] are Prudence, Justice, Courage or Fortitude, and Self-Control or Temperance.
Those are the “Cardinal Virtues”— natural and human, and anyone can work them, even a pagan who knows nothing of the Word of God, the Church, or baptism.
We who are baptized in Christ can ask ourselves if we do what even a good pagan can do.
If we do not, then we are wasting the graciousness of God, even here in the Eucharist.
“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

That God Be Glorified in All