O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do: Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Epistle 2 Corinthians 11:19-31
Gospel S. Luke 8:4-15
Last Sunday we were encouraged in the Collect, Epistle and Gospel to recognise our own sinfulness, as well as that which prevails in this fallen world.
This Sunday we are brought face to face with the humbling fact that we cannot even begin to put things right by our own unaided efforts, for we cannot "trust in anything that we do". It is only by the help of our Lord God that "we may defended against all adversity".
Yet how the world vainly thinks that by its own efforts, with new laws, and new projects and new initiatives, evil can be overcome and problems solved! We as Christians too need to be on our guard against self-satisfaction and pride in our good works. Indeed it is a remarkable fact that we shall often find that it is at the very point of our greatest blessing in the work of the Lord, that the Devil comes in with a most powerful temptation, suggesting, in some way or other, that we can now rest on our laurels, because of what we have achieved!
Hence, in the Epistle the Apostle Paul recounts both his earthly advantages as a Hebrew and a Pharisee, and also his personal sufferings in the cause of the Gospel, neither of which can bring him any cause for self-praise. "If I needs must glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities". For the Lord had already made clear to Paul in a personal way, "My strength is made perfect in weakness", 2 Cor. 12:9. We too will find that to be true as we put our trust in him.
So what is the explanation of being either fruitful or barren in the work of the kingdom? The parable fo the Sower in the Gospel teaches us that it is not the seed itself which determines the fruit-bearing capacity, but rather, where the seed is sown, in either a barren or a fruitful situation. The seed, which is the word of God, is available to everyone, but it is only those who receive the seed in a good, honest and receptive heart, who will bring forth fruit in abundance.
Let us therefore see to it that we own hearts are always warm towards the Holy Scriptures, "That on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience", Lk 8:15.