Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 234-235)
Matthew 13:10-23 TNIV
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Those who have will be given more, and they will have an abundance. As for those who do not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
Though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When people hear the message about the kingdom and do not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their hearts. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky places refers to people who hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to people who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to people who hear the word and understand it. They produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
It is a hard teaching, for it is a hard life to obey the words of Jesus. Weeds and temptations abound; the way of the cross has never been easy.
Now this is the great thing: we are set apart, dedicated to God, so that we may from then on think, speak, meditate, and do, nothing except to his glory. Something made sacred cannot then be applied to profane uses without harm. If we, then, are not our own but the Lord’s, it is clear…how we must direct every act of our lives. We are not our own: let neither our reason nor our will, then, sway our intentions or actions. We are not our own: let us therefore never order our lives as to what is easy for our flesh. We are not our own: insofar as we are able, let us then forget ourselves and all that is ours.
—John Calvin (1509-1564) Institutes 3.7.1
Prayer for Illumination
Eternal Word of God, our minds are too easily clouded by the shifting shadows of this age. Penetrate our imperceptions with your holy light. Illuminate our understanding by speaking anew your words within us. Reveal to us the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, that we may worthily magnify you and declare these mysteries to the darkened world. Amen.