Today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah simply reminds us of the importance of relying on the power of the word of God.
God assures us that just as the rain and the snow fall from the sky, and do not return to the sky without watering the earth, making it bring forth and bud, and giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, in the same way his word cannot go forth from his mouth, without accomplishing that for which it was uttered.
But the question is: what is the purpose for which God sends out his word? Simply put, it is to create and sustain life. God has always exercised this power through his word from the very beginning.
In Genesis, we are told: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light”. God continues to speak in our lives and in the world today. Unfortunately, forces of darkness in the world do not want us to see the need to listen to the voice of God.
When Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan, a voice came from heaven saying: "You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you". Jesus not only heard the voice, he put his confidence totally on the one who spoke to him. This was the affirmation that sustained Jesus during his life. Whatever happened to him - praise or blame - he clung to it. He always remembered that he was the favourite child of God.
Jesus came into the world to share this unique privilege with us. He came to open our ears to the voice that also says to us, "You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter, my favour rests on you." When we can hear that voice, trust in it, and always remember it, especially during dark times, we can live our lives as God's blessed children and find the strength to share that blessing with others.
This is where the second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans becomes very important. It contains the special message that God has for you and me today. He tells us that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, which is waiting for us at the end of our time here on earth.
Is this not very reassuring? It shows the kind of God we have. He is a God that has a heart. He is a God that loves. He is a God that cares. He is a God that shows compassion. He is not a God who is not concerned with what is happening in the world.
God is aware that there is much suffering in the world, but he does not want us to be distracted by that. Tribulations, trials, failures, misfortunes, illnesses will come, but they will never have the final word. Knowing this helps us in no small way. It enables us to put the ups and downs of life in perspective. It keeps us from despair.
Today’s gospel wants us to focus on some important questions that are equally connected to our relationship with the word of God. What are the stones in our soul and life that prevent us from having the required depth for the word of God to take root? Where are the weeds in our life that threaten to choke out the word of God and prevent it from growing?
Am I a person who is utterly conventional and restricted by habit? Am I one who neither forgets something old nor learns something new? In that case, a person whose fixation of mind obstructs even the good will of God.
Am I someone who is soft, shallow and sentimental? Am I one who is all emotion and no action. Who believes in indulgence, but no obligation. Whose mind is eager, but unstable, and so nothing grows for long in my life.
Am I someone who is preoccupied and absorbed by the world and its trash, and therefore incapable of observation, reflection and prayer?
As we gather here today, let us each ask God for the grace to respond positively to his call for us to listen to his word.