Jesus said, “Listen!” With an exclamation point. He wanted the Apostles to listen deeply.

By telling the parable of the sower, Jesus wasn’t offering tips on farming. He was issuing a wake-up call for the Apostles’ hearts.

Jesus recognized that the soil of their souls was shallow. Rocky. It had insufficient depth. They could eagerly affirm what Jesus taught in the morning, but by high noon the meaning would have withered inside because it had not yet taken root. Or distractions would have stolen away their attention.

How do we prepare our souls to be deep, unencumbered by rocks and thorns, away from birds of prey? Gather. Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I will be in their midst.” Do you have a community where you can listen deeply, and where Jesus, the gardener, can prepare the soil of your hearts to receive his word?

—Tom McGrath is a spiritual director and the Director of Trade Books atLoyola Press in Chicago. Click here to enjoy Loyola Press’s “31 Days with St. Ignatius,” a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality in honor of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day on July 31. Content includes articles, blog posts, and videos to help you learn about and apply the principles of Ignatian spirituality.