And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. -- Luke 8:7
When Jesus explained this parable to His disciples, He talked about the cares and pleasures of this life and of riches that are pictured as choking thorns. It is not that some of us do not have all we need to be fruitful disciples, or that we don't understand the message and hold it in our hearts. What we lack is exclusivity. We are not Jesus people as much as Jesus And people.
I am the man in this case.
I was watching an episode of "The Vikings" one evening when it struck me how lightly those people held their lives, in part because they believed in Valhalla for a death in battle, but also because life in this world often held little attraction for them. There wasn't a whole lot to be attached to. It was mostly darkness, brutality, physical labor, and, often, intense physical suffering. Aside from protecting and providing for one's children, life in this world might have seemed hardly worth the effort.
The modern world has its share of suffering, pain, and sorrow, but we are more often immersed in distractions than were our ancestors. Ours is a world and a civilization with an abundance of all the things that supposedly make life worth living. Much of what we enjoy has arisen from the Word that has been planted in our hearts. From this Seed has grown power and prosperity unimaginable to those to whom the Gospel was first preached.
I find that I rarely have to think about Christ or His Church, about heaven or hell, about death and disease. I can turn on something, change a channel, read, watch, listen, work, and communicate so easily that I can forget about God. If someone gets me started I can still tell them about the Bible and discuss sin and sanctity, the Holy Spirit or prayer, but I have work that needs to be done. There are plans to make, trips to take, and cakes to bake. There is retirement looming, and worries about investments nagging.
All of these things -- some of which are necessary -- can become thorns and thistles springing up, over-growing, and shading us from the direct light of life. Sometimes the best thing to do is get away from it all, set it all aside. The Christmas season may not be the best time for that. It sounds more like Lent. But we need a time when we weed out those briars before they get too big. It is something that is going to be a constant for most of us because the daily concerns of life happen daily. Things are going to keep springing up and needing to be uprooted.