I would imagine that the sights and sounds of the Pope's visit to Brazil are filling your minds. I know that they are playing a big part in my daily reflections these days. This first visit of the new Holy Father to his beloved South America is a great moment in the life of the Church.
The Holy Father will have much to say during these days. Most of what he says will be a matter of preaching the Gospel, of announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ as it is recorded by the evangelists and sacred writers of our Scriptures. At the Mass he celebrates today in the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparaceida, the Gospel of St. John will be proclaimed recounting the wedding feast of Cana. Most of us, however, will continue to read from the Gospel of St. Matthew. We will hear the first part of the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. The point of that parable fits nicely into the task which the Holy Father is about these days; namely, it is through hearing that we come to faith.
Jesus says that when the seed falls on fallow ground, it can produce thirty, sixty or one hundred fold. The first time the people heard him say this must have shocked them. I fear that the shock value has been lost on us however. Even thirty-fold would have been beyond the imaginations of the poor farmers of his time. They lacked the farming tools and knowledge that modern farmers have. These were subsistence farmers. All they looked for was a return on their investment, enough to keep their families fed for the present.
Listening to the Gospel is something we take for granted. Yet pundits claim that more people go without hearing the Gospel than hear it proclaimed. If that is so, we are all to blame; we, the Church, have been given the task of announcing the Good News. For if the people do not hear the Gospel, how will they ever come to faith. Though he never said it, a popular phrase erroneously attributed to St. Francis goes like this: "Preach the Gospel always; if necessary, use words."
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator