One of Pope Francis' key phrases is that the Christian message needs to reach the peripheries. Here today we see Jesus doing exactly that when he goes out of the house (a symbol for the faith community) and engages the crowd and entices them further along discipleship.
We can do the same on the peripheries of our hearts, our souls, our lives. We all have parts of us that are interested and intrigued but not yet fully committed to following Jesus. That's what original sin has left in our souls - it's residue, even after initial conversion, is a tendency toward sin called concupiscence that always need to say "yes!" to following Jesus in a deeper way.
We have to let Jesus speak to us and reach those parts of our soul that are longing for Him. This has to be done in the same way that Jesus does it today: by an enticing invitation to go further. Information can be part of that invitation, as Christ uses a parable to teach a type of lesson. Experiences can be part of it, too, for we often learn in such ways. The goal, however, is a deeper relationship with the person of Jesus, and this cannot be forced or taught.
Christian Media can be great tools for this type of invitation to grow. For example, with Music. Audrey Assad, Matt Maher, Jars of Clay, Rich Mullins, and Caedmon's Call. Even local songwriters like Liz Cotrupi and Joshua Comeau who make beautiful worship to God.
Also there are great movies on the lives of saints, though sometimes you may need to be a little patient with the production or acting or storyline. Also, many mainstream films are clearly faith-based, such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings series.
If you've never really given Christian media a try, do it!...especially in the realm of music, which is a personal favorite of mine. You'll be surprised what it can do for your faith. Putting good things into your mind and soul is just like feeding your body the right foods: it's the simplest way to promote health.
Now this all fits in with today's parable of the sower. God, represented by this extremely generous sower, is sending us messages all the time, but so often we fail to notice it or to accept it. His grace is always sufficient for us, so the problem is in the soil, not the seed. We want to be that good soil that allows the Word of God, as Isaiah says, to achieve the end for which it was sent, just like the rain never goes back to the heavens wasted. Just like the soil, all kinds of weeds want to grow in our hearts, too, often more aggressively than the good plant of the Word of God. So we have to do our part, and thinking of God and our relationship to Him throughout our daily lives is perhaps the best way to prepare that soil of our hearts. That meditation, along with intentional daily prayer, is what gives God the space he needs to work with on the front lines of the battle for our heart.
So faith-based music, films, and books are all ways that help provide that space. They are logs for the fire of a soul burning with love for God, keeping the flame going. They are like the plow that breaks up the soil of our hearts and minds, so we can truly receive the messages God is always trying to send us through the Spirit that Paul reminds us has been planted within our souls through Baptism.
Reading Sacred Scripture and getting a sense of how God has worked in the lives of the saints helps us to understand how God is working in our world today.
The next step is sharing the fruits of what has grown in our hearts, just like the sower himself. You may not think about this every day, but we Christians are meant to change the world. And although that starts with us, changing the world means touching the lives of others, and that's not has hard as you think. If you shared a book, film, or CD with someone once a month, you could change a lot of lives. If this whole parish did that, it would have eternal effects. So let's be like the generous sower of the seed, our loving God, and allow the fruits of his word overflow from our hearts into the lives of those around us!