One evening the students came across a bible in the field centre and, knowing I was Catholic, asked me to choose a story and read it to them. All of them were enthusiastic with the idea and settled down to listen ... except one. She was evidently very jumpy about it. She didn't want to be left out, nor did she want to stay. When I saw the state of anxiety she was exhibiting I said that anyone who didn't want to stay was free to choose. She was relieved and decided to stay, though she remained on edge. I didn't choose a story, but rather the section of St John's First Letter on Love.
Later I talked to her quietly about what her difficulty was and she told me that she had been brought up as a Catholic and was no longer practising. She felt guilty about this. How many Catholics are in this position! Some would like to return but are afraid of going through the church door, though we would welcome them.
Others are like those of whom Jesus spoke in today's Gospel (Matt 13:1-23). They have listened and listened again, but not understood, and are fearful that they might be drawn back. It is often not their fault, but that of the culture in which we now live. We need courage to believe, to go against the ideas and ideologies of our society, to do what Mary did when she said yes to God and changed the world.
As St Catherine of Siena said, "Be what you should be and you can set fire to the world."