Going through the first reading today, I had a mental flashback to when I was growing up as a young boy in a family of 7 children. I remember the usual daily “moral instructions” from our parents then. My dad, a retired elementary school teacher, would often use this phrase, “As my father used to say….” Those words would never be lacking in my dad’s mouth. Similar words also came from my mother. She would refer to certain things which she heard from her own parents. This made me understand that parenting requires interpersonal skills between parents and their children. Their parents sowed good seeds into them, and they in turn transfer them to us. And this requires finding ample time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your child, just as St. Paul did with his spiritual child, Timothy.
A program of spiritual life
We have been reading the first letter of Paul to Timothy. We are at the concluding part of Paul’s “parental admonishing” to his “son” Timothy. It is striking to me how Paul continues to guide Timothy, giving him a program of life. The program is anchored on faithfulness to God and His commands. This is similar to what many parents do for their children.
I remember when I was about to enter the seminary to start formation towards the Catholic priesthood. On the day I was to leave our house and go into the seminary, my dad woke me up at the early time of 4 am. I was still wondering the reason for such an interruption of my morning sleep, when he invited me to our living room. We sat down. He began to speak to me calmly but passionately, admonishing me on the expectations from me as I was then entering the seminary. Those powerful words from my dad in those early hours of that morning remained impressed in my heart throughout my seminary formation. And they are still green in my mind even as I write this reflection. They have become like a sort of program of life for me.
Timothy turned out to become a great bishop and pastor of souls, thanks to the instructions and guides from Paul, and the grace of God. We can say that Paul sowed the seed of the word into Timothy, who accepted this seed like a fertile ground, and produced a rich harvest (the Gospel of today).
A divine invitation
God, like a good father, continues to tell us fruitful Words, which renew everything, even cultures. The Word is not a concept that we must understand with the brain and put into practice with the will. Instead, it is a seed of grace given at an opportune time, which grows in a very personal way, leading towards its fulfillment in each one of us. Jesus continues to sow his Word abundantly in our lives, with the broad and generous gesture of the sower of the parable. The seed of the Word, if not accepted and grown, will dry in us just like among the stones. It is not enough to listen, to make it germinate. It is necessary to cultivate it, understand it, study it, love it, meditate on it, and pray it.
All of us are invited to become sowers of the Word into the lives of others. It is not enough to preach the Word, but we should know how to communicate it in order to make a deeper impact. Our world today has a greater need of words of comfort, consolation, counsel; words of peace and reconciliation; words of encouragement. We should learn more how to speak such words to each other. But we can only succeed in that if we ourselves have accepted the word, allowing it to germinate and bear fruit in us.