Sharing the joy of the Gospel is not always an easy thing. There are many challenges that lay before us. That is why Jesus told us the Parable of the Sower. In it, a man sows seeds which represent God’s word. The seed lands in one of four places: the path, the rocks, the thorns, and the good soil. Anyone who is interested in spreading the Word of God would do well to meditate and reflect on His words.
This article is the first in a four-part series that draws out the lessons of that parable for us in the modern world.
We are called to share God’s word with anyone. But some of those seeds fall on the path. In the parable, birds immediately take up the seed and eat it at once. Christ told us that the birds represent Satan.
And with this, He warns us against the devil’s most used weapon: distraction.
I’ve often heard my students ask why God doesn’t speak to us today like He did in the days of the Bible. Why aren’t there more miracles? Why can’t we see His presence?
The answer, of course, is that He does still speak as He did in days gone by. We are surrounded by His miracles and the wonder of His presence.
The problem isn’t that He isn’t there. The problem isn’t we aren’t looking. And the reason why many are not looking is because we are too distracted.
Who can argue that in the 21st century, our culture is one of constant distraction? I’m not saying that everything was better in “the good old days,” but we are surrounded by constant stimulation. I’m old enough to remember that TV stations went off the air to the sound of the national anthem. Now, we have entertainment at our fingertips on our TVs, our computers, our smartphones. How many hours a day to we spend just surfing the net or reading our Twitter feeds? How much do we crowd out God because we need to get to the next level of Candy Crush?
The above things aren’t necessarily bad. Right now I am on a computer typing out this article in the hopes that I am doing some good work for the Lord. We can use these tools for a good end. But we have to be careful about them taking away from the task at hand.
Satan sometimes gets us distracted with sinful thoughts and actions. The glamour of evil is something we constantly struggle within our daily temptations. But the devil is content to draw our minds to things which are not by their nature sinful. Just as long as He can dull the voice of God speaking to us. His one goal is simple: anything but Jesus.
Have you ever tried speaking with someone who is texting? Your words bounce off them because they are too distracted by something else. How often in our prayer time to we only half listening to God while we worry about this, that, or the other thing?
I remember listening to a story by the great Catholic speaker Sean Forrest. He was at a Confirmation retreat and during a break he reached out to a lonely girl. There was a wonderful moment where her classmates began to really connect to her. But suddenly a kid very loudly bounced a basketball and shouted, “I didn’t come here to get depressed,” and led the others away to play basketball.
Anything but Jesus.
Another way that the devil tries to remove the word is with cynicism. I’ve noticed of late that one of the most common ways people arm themselves against the Word of God is take cover underneath a smirking sense of irony.
Those who try to share the Gospel are greeted with a joyless laughter. With snark and sneers, the listeners convince themselves that what they hear is a joke. You could be talking about something very heartfelt and serious. But they force themselves to laugh and by doing so dismiss the words as silly and stupid.
Anything but Jesus.
So what is the solution?
There are several, but I would like to focus on one: silence.
Silence removes one of the devil’s greatest weapons. There was some great wisdom by the early desert fathers, who embraced the great silence. It wasn’t that they were cutting themselves off from relationships. They were removing their distractions so that they could better hear the Lord.
I once went on an eight day silent retreat and the first day was tough. You don’t realize how much you fill your day with useless distraction. But slowly, in the emptiness, you can feel the stirring of the Spirit and the voice of our God.
At our school we have a day where the entire student body gets to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. The entire school is assembled in our gymnasium. And during that time, we ask for silence. For some people, they will have a powerful, life-changing encounter with the Lord. After that, it will take some time for that experience to sink in. Silence helps with that. To immediately fall into idle chatter would be to sap the work of the Spirit.
It is important to take time away from our TVs, our phones, our computers…everything. That is increasingly difficult in the modern world. But if we can just give God a few quiet minutes a day, then we can shield ourselves from that evil bird Satan as he swoops down and tries to steal the Word from us.
Copyright 2014, W.L. Grayson