Last evening I had an opportunity to speak with the Class of 2019 at our annual End the Year Right Night. I had planned on beginning my remarks with some anecdotes from news stories that told of senior activities that went awry in such a way that the perpetrators got their comeuppance, but without any lasting results like jail time or lengthy hospitalization.
I was literally shocked by what I found. There are a multitude of very frightening stories that I could not bring up in my presentation simply because they were so horrific. Some of the stories even told of school personnel, including security guards and principals, who knew what was going on and therefore were complicit in the “pranks” that cost thousands of dollars in damages to schools.
With the “look at these pranks that kind of went wrong and don’t make the same kind of mistakes” option taken off the table I went old-school theology teacher – I told one of Jesus’ parables.
The Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Luke 8:4-15) enabled me to talk about different approaches towards the End the Year Right Night theme, but it reminded me that the parable is applicable to all of us every day of our lives.
As Jesus explains the parable, the seed is the Word of God. The Word is spread far and wide and it lands where it lands. Sometimes it lands on a path, sometimes on rocky ground, or on thorny ground, or on good soil.
Each of the landing sites is a type of person, and Jesus is calling us to look at our lives and see where we stand in relation to the Word. Are we the path? Are we excited about the message of Jesus, but never allow it to really take root in our lives? Do we just not have the foundational soil that allows us to make the Word a part of who we really are?
Or are we the rocky soil, and does the Word take root in us like grass takes root in the cracks in our driveway? Do we only give over small parts of our lives to the Word? Is there not enough good soil in us for the Word to carry us through difficult times or will it simply wither and fade?
Or are we the thorny ground? Do the challenges in our lives choke the Word of God within us? Are things like living “the good life” keeping us from allowing the Word to fully bloom in our lives? Or when times get difficult do we turn everywhere but to Christ and His Word?
It may seem trite to say that living – truly living – as a follower of Jesus is a difficult task in the culture that we find ourselves in, but it is true. And it has always been true. Certainly, there have been times when, as Catholic Worker founder Peter Maurin would say, it is easier for people to be good, but living in a society that promotes virtue is still not a society that prevents our sinfulness.
The goal that Jesus has for each of us is to be the good soil, to be people who hear the Word of God and act upon it with depth and with the consistency that will produce results, as the parable states, a hundredfold.
The use of this parable was a fitting one last night – it helped our seniors to relate the call of Jesus to how they plan to live out these last few weeks before graduation. But on a larger scale this is a call that should challenge all of us, and lead us to do all that we can, from this day forward, to end our lives right.