Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study –
The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time Cycle A is Matthew 13:1-23.
As huge crowds are drawn to Him, Christ begins to teach them in parables about the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven; a parable is short story that uses familiar images to draw the willing to ponder a cryptic deeper truth. Christ begins with the Parable of the Sower, using imagery very familiar to the crowd; many grew their own food and Jews would recall that the “Sower” often refers to God in the Old Testament (Isa 55:10-11; Jer 31:27-28). This magnificent parable describes the disposition of men to hear God, the Spiritual Combat, the confirmation of Satan’s work in the world and God’s expectations of men to be fruitful.
Later, Christ’s disciples ask in private why He is speaking in parables. Christ reveals a glimpse of the supernatural mystery of how God calls all men, accepting that many will refuse His gracious invitation. For all all men of good will who seek Christ and His Kingdom, He promises abundant blessings which include a growing peace and joy on earth and the eternal joy in the life to come. For those who encounter but reject Him, Christ reveals that they will lose everything, including their eternal salvation.
Christ then explains the meaning of the parable by describing four different reactions (Soils) to God’s (the Sower) announcement (Sowing) of the word of Kingdom of Heaven (the Seed). Men who hear but don’t care to understand about the Kingdom (the path) are seduced by the Evil One/Satan (the birds). Men who hear but only have an initial shallow emotional reaction (rocky ground with shallow roots) fall away when tribulation/persecution (the scorching sun) occurs. Men who hear but prefer and are choked by the pleasures of the world (the thorns) fail to bear fruit. Men who hear, understand and persevere to enter the Kingdom (the good soil) and bear extraordinary fruit (disciples, love) for the King. Christ seeks men who will hear, understand, have an absolute commitment to the Kingdom of Heaven and who bear much fruit (the good soil). All others in Christ’s parable who do not give themselves to Him face bad outcomes: some are seduced by Satan (the path), others are “scorched” by troubles in the world and some are “choked” out by riches/pleasures and become sterile. Only the “good soil” men will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of Man, Christ uses His immense physical power and stamina to be heard by large crowds. Divine Teacher, Christ uses compelling and memorable parables that draw on everyday experience to selectively teach those willing to hear. Divine Judge, Christ uses parables to reveal the truth about eternal reward and eternal punishment and that many men (the path, rocky ground, thorny ground) will fail to meet His expectations and will not enter into the eternal life of the Kingdom. Divine Prophet, Christ reaffirms the insights He inspired Isaiah to write 700 years earlier.
Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) Today, the powerful have little to say and talk too much; they read their focus-group-tested speeches off teleprompters and have their voices amplified with loudspeakers. Marvel at the profound Wisdom that bursts forth from Christ and how His powerful manly voice can be heard by thousands despite the outdoor seaside setting.
2) Christ condemns men’s sterile reactions (indifference, emotionalism, preference for the world) to His invitation to the Kingdom. Consider the Sins against God’s Love (CCC 29, 2094) and pray for Christ to give you a burning desire to give yourself completely to Him.
3) Christ has extremely high expectations (100, 60 and 30 fold!) for the fruit men fit for the Kingdom of Heaven must produce, fruitfulness only possible for men who are moved by the Holy Spirit. Consider the need for Fruitfulness and Holiness (CCC 546, 2074, 2012-2016) and with a hard eye and Holy Fear, face your own fruitfulness and pray for Christ to send the Holy Spirit to help you to be more fruitful.
Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity
Virtue of the Day – Charity
Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry
Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner