Today’s Gospel parable illustrates a common saying in Jesuit formation: “Compare and despair.”

Even when seeds fall on rich soil, some bear more fruit than others. But Jesus is unconcerned about which seed bears more fruit. He just wants his seeds to bear fruit, whether “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

This is good news for those of us who like to compare ourselves to others. Maybe a classmate is always getting grades a little higher than ours. Maybe a coworker churns out multiple projects in the time it takes us to finish one. But Jesus is not worried about how much fruit we produce. He just wants us to bear as much fruit as we can, using the gifts we have. So try not to compare. Otherwise, “worldly anxiety and the lure of riches” keep us from bearing any fruit at all, and indeed, we begin to despair.

—Dan Everson, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.