There is something powerful to notice in the parable of the Sower and the Seeds. In each of the cases in the failed seeds, an outside force frustrates their ability to grow. It is either the sun, the rocks, the thorns or the birds.
This is an important lesson because a major message of Jesus is that we are all called to be fruitful members of the Kingdom and that each of us has a mission. However, if we allow an outside force to interfere with our mission, we will fail in it. But if we just follow Christ and trust in God, we will succeed in our mission.
This means, however, that we will have to follow Christ even when others would have given up, that is the difference between the saved and the lost. In fact, we may find our staying faithful to Christ may actually leads us closer to Him in tough times. This is a message that St. Rose taught, when things go wrong stay prayerful and faithful and you will go stronger in Christ. Otherwise, when things go wrong you will abandon Christ just as Jesus says.
Your most difficult times are when you have to be more focused on Christ and He will reveal Himself to you and be your strength.
Let us take an example, the easiest one is based on the thorns that grow up around the seed and choke it off. That is the anxieties of the world. When you are struggling with your greatest anxiety, maybe it is fear of losing your job, or just of making ends meet. What if you get a sudden expense that makes you unable to pay your bills. Then it is at those times to pray and trust that God be with you and in your anxiety bring Christ to help you. Those sleepless nights will give way to nights of confidence in Christ.
But you have to bring Christ into the problem and in fact that is exactly when Christ is most needed in your life to show you that He is there. This brings us back to St. Rose’s words that if we know how much our difficulties led us closer to Christ, we would ask for more of them.
The power of these distractions is that they can lead us to turn away from Christ in order to focus on the problem and by doing this we lose the strength that is Christ.
One of the most powerful passages in the Bible is where St. Paul calls us to draw our strength from the Lord it is the passage of spiritual warfare. In that St. Paul shows us that our battle is not against human forces but it is against principalities and powers. What does this mean. It is not against those who cause us anxiety, it is against those forces that when we are in anxiety tell us to focus on the problem and not on Christ. We are to focus on Christ when things are back to normal. That is the path to disaster cited in this parable.
We even institutionalize this issue. People feel it is important to keep their children involved in sports to keep them busy and out of trouble, so sports become more important than God because people are focused on ensuring their children do not get lost to the underculture. But they need to be rooted in God and then in sports so they can be strong in their deepest difficulties, which sports does not have the skill to give them.
The body is set up so that when there is great trouble, your breathing changes and resources are sent to different parts of the body than when normal. That is why when you have a lot of anxiety, you tend to hyperventilate. The solution is to start breathing deeply and this will calm you down. We do the same thing spiritually, when things go wrong we get focused on the issue, but like when we consciously slow down our breathing to better deal with a crisis, we must bring our struggles to prayer and that will give us the strength to deal with the issue. We have to invite Christ into our issues, it does not matter whether we are dealing with health issues, financial issues, family issues and personal crises of different types. One of the the things you will realize is that nothing can shut you down like fear. When you succumb to fear, you completely shut down and then you become blind to God’s grace in your world. It is then that we have to focus on Christ and know that He is with us in our most difficult situations and those we most fear.
Notice, what I said at the beginning, all of these are outside pressures that can destroy the life within us, but when we focus on Christ they do not choke off the life in us, but bring us to bear powerful fruit. It is this the Christ is ultimately calling us to do. What causes us to bear fruit: sunshine, deep roots and the weeds that died and decayed to produce rich soil. What is that, the defeat of all those seeking to steal from us our eternal life by focusing on Christ the Lord.