SOW SEEDS OF FAITH, EVEN WHEN THEIR FRUITS ARE NOT IMMEDIATE, POPE SAYS
By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Even if the fruits are not immediately visible, Christians are called to sow seeds of faith in the world and people around them in their daily lives, Pope Francis said.
Before praying the Angelus with some 15,000 visitors in St. Peter's Square July 16, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells his followers the parable of the sower.
In Jesus' parable, the seed that falls on rich soil produces fruit, while seed that falls on hard or rocky ground or among the thorns does not. "If the Word is the seed, we are the terrain," Pope Francis said, "we can receive (the Word) or not."
The word of God, he explained, is like a seed: "it is small, almost unseeable, but it grows plants that bear fruit" and Jesus is the "good sower" who "never tires of sowing (seeds) with generosity" and calls Christians to do the same.
As an example, the pope said that parents are called to sow seeds of goodness and faith in their children and to not be discouraged if their kids do not seem to understand or appreciate their teachings.
"The good seed remains, this is what matters, and it will take root in due time," he said. "But if, giving in to doubt, (parents) give up sowing (seeds) and leave their children in the hands of trends and cell phones without devoting time to them, without educating them, then the fertile soil will be filled with weeds."
Young people, he explained, are called not only to receive seeds of faith but also to "sow the Gospel in the furrows of everyday life."
Young people, he said, can begin by sowing the Gospel through prayer: "a small seed that is not seen, but with which you entrust to Jesus everything you live through, so he can develop it."
Pope Francis also suggested young people spend time with people in need. It can seem like time wasted, "but really it is holy time," he said, "while the apparent satisfactions of consumerism and hedonism leave hands empty."
The pope also encouraged young people to devote themselves to study, which, like sowing seeds, "is tiresome and not immediately rewarding," he said, "but is essential to build a better future for all."
The pope recalled the important role of consecrated religious and laypeople who preach the Gospel "often without recording any immediate successes."
"Let us never forget, when we announce the word, that even where nothing appears to happen, in reality the Holy Spirit is at work and the kingdom of God is growing, through and beyond our efforts," he said.
The pope urged Christians to ask themselves how they plant seeds of the Gospel in their work, study and free time. He recalled that he was speaking on the feast of Our Lady of Carmel and asked Mary to help Christians become "generous and joyous sowers of the good news."
After praying the Angelus, the pope noted that July 19 marked the 80th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's visit to a Roman neighborhood immediately after it was bombed during the Second World War to show his closeness to the victims of conflict.
"Unfortunately, today too these tragedies repeat themselves," he said. "How is it possible? Have we lost our memory?"