A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up…And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold… Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”Luke 8: 5, 8
Photos of birds at the Abbey of St. Walburga
We hear in Luke’s Gospel about the parable of the sower. As I was thinking about this reading, I thought about how birds usually just peck at one thing at a time. Isn’t that what happens to us in life? The “birds” peck away at the time we have to spend with God. They just take one minute at a time. It’s like when you sit down to do lectio divina and realize that your books are out of place, so you put them back in order – and there goes one seed. And then you see that your bed isn’t made yet, and there goes another couple seeds. And then you’re sitting there drinking your coffee and reading the Word, and then of course you notice a stack of papers that are in the wrong place, so you think you’ll just get them put away quickly, but then there’s another seed gone. Pretty soon, practically all the seeds have been eaten up! You’ve been in your room alright, but what have you been doing there? All those little things that are so hard not to pay attention to.
And I pondered how often this happens to us throughout the day, too. “Acedia” doesn’t mean that you don’t work, but that you’re doing the things you’re not supposed to be doing. How many times do you find yourself running hard in the opposite direction from what you’re really supposed to be doing? In the moment, it seems that “Anything else is better than what I’m supposed to be doing right now.” And yet, being attentive to our present duty it is what God is calling us to. And that takes a great deal of discipline, just to do what you’re supposed to do. Everything else is like the little ravens that are running around picking up the seeds, taking the minutes away from doing what we should be doing. All those little distractions steal from us our time with God, and we should be on guard against them.
I wonder if Martha was tempted by the birds during the dinner at Bethany, when she was busying about with every possible detail of hospitality? Jesus gently reprimanded her to not be so anxious, and that her sister had chosen the “better part” by sitting at His feet. But it seems that Martha took His correction without any bitterness, because we know that she was the first one to come out and meet Jesus when He came to raise Lazarus from the dead. She wasn’t hiding somewhere because she was ashamed of being reprimanded. What a humble soul she must have been. I pray that if we find ourselves tempted by the birds, we will have the courage to turn back to Christ and look to Him for help and guidance.
More photos of birds at the Abbey of St. Walburga