LAST WEEK, we began reading the Gospel of Matthew’s 13th chapter. The obvious theme from this chapter is that of the seed that is sown.
Last week, we began to question how we receive the Word of God, recognizing the multifaceted aspect of that particular term: the Word of God, ultimately, is the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ the Lord. It is Jesus, who is Himself the Word made flesh, and it is through Him, with Him and in Him that the Word that is life takes root in us.
The Word of God is communicated to us in and through Divine Revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. This Divine Revelation is interpreted through the Magisterium of the Church, the official teaching power of the bishops.
We began, last week, to ask ourselves if we were able to be good soil so that the Word could grow. The best advice that I might be able to give as to how we can continue to be fruitful spiritually, to allow the Word of God to come to us comes from a Canadian Jesuit priest, a philosopher and theologian named Father Bernard Lonergan.
Father Lonegran wrote many books and published many articles and I remember, both in the college seminary in Douglaston as well as in graduate work in Rome, that he was a major figure whom we had to study. His major works were Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972).
Father Lonergan was considered to be a transcendental Thomist, one who took the work of St. Thomas Aquinas and applied it primarily to a theory of knowledge. He wanted to get people to raise their own conscience, their own self-awareness in life. The way to do this, according to Father Lonergan, is to follow four transcendental precepts: Be attentive, Be intelligent, Be reasonable, and Be responsible!
Four Precepts for Living
Let’s go through each of these precepts and see how we can, in a simple way, apply them to our lives. First, be attentive! Are we attentive to the “signs of the times, ” as the Second Vatican Council urges us? Do we bring the Gospel into our everyday decisions, into our own lives? Do we approach the world with a newspaper in one hand and the Bible in another?
We as Christians, as those who respond to the mandate of the great commission of the Lord, must go each day into this world with the sure and certain knowledge that, although we must live in this world, our citizenship is in the world to come.
Second, be intelligent. By intelligence, I mean more than just book smart. But even in this sense, are we intelligent about our faith? Do we strive to learn more about the teachings of the Church and the meaning of Sacred Scriptures? Do we take the opportunity to do spiritual reading, to elevate our minds and hearts so that we might grow intellectually, as well as spiritually?
We must also give ourselves the opportunity to grow wise in the things of the Lord. How do we do so? By praying! By seemingly “wasting time” with the One who knows us and loves us more than anyone else in this world, with the One who cares for us more than anyone else in the universe?
Another way we can grow wise is to become wise in experience. We can do so by seeing all things as part of God’s plan for us. By seeing all things as part of God’s plan for our personal salvation history, we begin to grow into the men and women whom the Lord has created us to be.
Third, be reasonable. This is tough for us! Do we recognize our limitations, as well as the limitations of others? There’s only so much we can do; there’s only 24 hours in a day! Do we recognize that God is God, we’re not and thank God for that? Can we let go and let God? It’s His world, not ours.
Finally, be responsible! Are we responsible stewards of the good gifts with which we have been blessed? This Earth, our talents, even our health? We are called to be proactive stewards of God’s creation each day and at every moment.
If we can begin to become attentive, intelligent, reasonable, and responsible, we can start living out the Good News of the Gospel with our very lives. This is the joyful challenge of this beautiful 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
Next Sunday, we conclude the proclamation of this chapter and we begin to hear Jesus’ final explanation of this important Gospel.
Readings for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19
Romans 8: 26-27
Matthew 13: 24-33
Father John Cush teaches English and theology at Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst, where he also serves as spiritual director and director of development and alumni affairs.