Today’s Gospel passage teaches us some fundamental principles of our Faith. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, one of the most powerful images used for understanding God’s relationship to his people is that God speaks to us with examples that have organic effects. Think about it: the Word of God is often likened to a seed that is planted in the soil. Jesus himself, of course, offers the “Parable of the Sower.” The sower is eager to sow the seed. But it depends a great deal on the nature of the soil, if that seed is going to take root. Now, just how the ability of the seed taking root depends a great deal on the nature of the soil, in like manner the ability of the Word of God taking root in our soul depends a great deal on how open and docile our soul is to receiving it. When we take the time to look at our lives before Our Blessed Lord, we notice there is a hardness of heart in the human person. The soil in which the seed of God’s Word is planted is often too dry and rocky for anything to grow. As the Lord sends his prophets out, they are fully aware of what they are up against. In the case of Ezekiel, in today’s reading in the liturgy, the Lord warns him: “Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you…” Notice, even if the soil is rocky, and doesn’t seem like it will be receptive to the seed of the Word, Our Lord continues to sow the seed of His Divine Word hoping it will take root.
It is the will of the Lord to have his Word heard so that the seed of his word take root and bear fruit. But the only way this can happen, is if there is an opening in the soil, a break in the encrusted surface of the human heart, into which that seed can fall, get enveloped, and begin to grow.
Now, due to the general “hardness of the human heart,” we see in Sacred Scripture, how God has chosen a reoccurring way to help break up that hardness of heart, by doing things on purpose in a way that confuses our human logic. In other words, the only way to understand what God often does is by humbling ourselves, and accepting what He says and does. That humility is the Divine plow to break open the hardest of soil, the hardest of hearts.
St. Paul points to this reality in more direct language in today’s readings. He notes, “Power is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, what looks like weakness to the eyes of the world turns out to be strength when we look at the person of Jesus. What seems like defeat on the cross turns out to be victory. It turns out to be the fullness of the expression of God’s Power and his Divine Love.
Some of this confusion shows through in today’s Gospel reading. It was because of the hardness of their hearts that they were unable to understand who Jesus was and open their hearts to Him.
Here, it seems, is the most important point of the invitation for us in today’s liturgy, particularly as we come forward from this moment of hearing the Word.
To the degree we have heard with the open ears of our heart, to that same degree our hearts are prepared in openness to receive the fullness of the Word made flesh in the Most Holy Eucharist. God’s speech of hope becomes God’s action of love. May God help us to recognize our need for this hope. May God help us to recognize our need for this love which only the Lord can give, so that we may come forward with open hearts to say in great gratitude, “Amen.”