From the House Postil, a Homily on Luke 8:4-15
We should very carefully study this Gospel so that each of us may examine himself to determine to which group he belongs.
We would like to think that there is no particular danger involved in heedless hearing and not retaining the Word, and that those who act thus are simple, inattentive people, with a natural trait of forgetting what they heard preached. But Christ assesses things differently here, stating it is the devil who takes the word out of their hearts.
They are of the opinion that nothing much is lost when they let the Word in one ear and out the other.
This group that hears the Word and pays no heed is the largest.
But as soon as tribulation comes along, they grow terrified and are unwilling to endure suffering. As a result, the fruit of eternal life will also remain beyond reach.
For whoever is obsessed by worldly cares, whose sole concern is how high he can climb and how rich he can become, will have a heart that is encumbered, as Christ says, and as a result the Word is choked within him, like the seed among the thrones.
However, to this, as Christ says, we must add a good and honest heart, that is a heart which, in the first place, is not listless, but really intent on the Word of God.
This heart must be purged and swept clean so that no thorns remain in it, that is, we must no longer love possessions, money, fame, and pleasures more than God's Word and the life which is to come, nor be more concerned with secular affairs than with God's Word.
We need to be on guard against the weakness and infirmities of our nature, against succumbing to false security, but petitioning God for His Holy Spirit, to remove such obstacles, to sweep out those thorns and thistles from our hearts, so that we can continue to hear and retain God's Word, and bring forth the good fruit, by faith in Christ, through which faith we not only live in obedience to God, but become God's children and heirs. The main reason this seed is sown, that is, the gospel is proclaimed in all the world, is to create and work fruit in us which endures into eternity.
Listen to God's Word while you have it; the time may come when you would like to hear it, but it may not be there for you. Therefore, give ear diligently while you have it.