By Sister Marianne Burkhard, OSB
Watching Pope Francis on his visit to the United States, I marveled at his finding the right words and the right tone for all the different audiences.
One of the commentators, David Brooks from the New York Times, said he was sure that the Pope’s visit brought many people estranged from the Church back to a church, to a Mass, and that their seeing and hearing him might actually change their lives.
Pope Francis has a wonderful way with words, speaking humbly and reflectively, and yet challenging us in a positive manner.
All this brought me back to my reflections about the parables of the seeds in Mark’s Gospel (Mk 4), and especially to the second one (Mk 4:26-29) where Jesus talks about how the seeds fall into the ground, and after some time start to grow and sprout, the “farmer does not know how.”
We are all called to be sowers of seeds.
Our words, nurtured in the silence of our prayer, in the heart of our faith, and in our everyday experience are the seeds that we sow, whenever we minister to people – whether in some official capacity as a minister of a church, or simply in a chance encounter with a friend, stranger or family member.
Most of the time we don’t know whether these word-seeds will take root, grow in secret, and one day – suddenly or slowly – sprout into a change of heart that will become visible in words and action and may affect not just the one person, but many others.
Our words need not contain great discoveries or deep reflections, but they have to come out of our heart and our faith. They have to try to address the person’s actual situation with empathy, discretion and humility.
Let us be aware that, by the words we say and how we say them, we are always sowers of words. Those words may offer compassion, consolation and hope that witness to our own struggles with life’s frustrations, difficulties and joys – words that are seasoned by our everyday experience and prayer, and that ultimately are rooted in our own gratefulness for God’s love and grace we have experienced in our lives.