July 13th 2008 - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55, 10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8, 18-23; Matthew 13, 1-23
1 God's generosity – God is sowing abundantly and not sparingly
The parable has strong links with the First Reading from Isaiah. In both we are told that God shares his abundance with us and his plans will not be frustrated. God's creative and nurturing work is compared with rain and snow falling on the earth and not returning until it has given moisture
2 The reality of God's Word
In the whole of Scripture God's word is not just a spoken word. It is a doing word, a creating, life-giving word. It is like a life-bearing seed. God’s Word finally is Jesus Christ Himself. Are we aware of this?
Everything that Jesus said, everything that Jesus did was God communicating to us through Him. Not just His teaching but his whole life, from the hidden years of Nazareth through his public life to his death and resurrection - in all of this Jesus was, and is for us today, the Word of God.
What is my attitude toward the Word of God? How do I see it, how do I accept it? Do I trust Him or I try to intellectualize and adopt the Word of God to my personal lifestyle?
The gospels are unlike any other literature in the history of the world.
They are unique because in them the Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself, speaks to us and instructs us.
Because He knows each of us intimately, His love for us is the perfect answer to our needs.
But we will not grow in the good and joyful life of Christ if the gospel can find no place in us.
When the scriptures are proclaimed in the liturgy we can be "good soil" for the sowing of God's word if we put aside distractions and recognize that it is the most important moment of the week; the one in which the living God speaks to each of us in a perfect way.
But if we are rocky ground, with little depth, or a patch of thorns, with little or no time or attention, the Word will not take root. After 9-11 the Sunday churches were filled. All Masses, hardly a place to sit down. Within a month, Mass attendance got back to normal. Plenty of seats available. Those who pray when danger threatens, but soon forget God, live in rocky soil.
In the parable, much of that Word fell on barren soil.
Barren soil – the path, the trail, the hard track
• Some seed falls on the path. There is no soil here. There is no prospect of the seed taking root. Ears and eyes are closed and unreceptive to the Word of God.
Many refused to hear or to see (hence so many cases of deafness and blindness in the Gospel). Even Jesus' closest disciples many times did not accept His teaching “it’s very difficult to listen to You. How we can eat your body and drink your blood.” Is it today different when so many reject His real presence in the Eucharist?
The barren soil represents those who knows better, who don’t need the Teacher, who don’t understand and are wiser but in reality blind and deaf. They don’t accept the Word because they don’t need it, their soul is as hard as the stone pawed track.
Rocky ground – immediately receives
no root, endures only for a while
• The seed falls on rocky ground in the field where there is a thin layer of soil. The seed takes root, begins to grow but soon gets burnt up by lack of water and the heat of the sun. It is like those Christians who, after baptism or after a retreat or some spiritual experience (like RCIA), have a great rush of enthusiasm for God but, under the slightest pressure, soon run out of steam and fall away. Probably there was no real hearing, no real understanding and hence no real commitment.
So there is a necessity of deepening, of strengthening, developing, takimg care of the seed of the Word of God.
Among thorns – overwhelmed by
- the cares of the world and
- the lure of wealth
• The seed falls on soil where there are many weeds and thorns. It gets smothered by the competing plants. This we might call the "having your cake and eating it" response. I do want to be a good Christian but I also want to have all the things that the world around me thinks important, even if they are in conflict with the Gospel vision. It won't work. We cannot at the same time totally serve God and be a part of the materialistic, consumerist, "success"-hungry world. Probably a very large number of us, in varying degrees, belong in this category. As a result, the Church's work in building the Kingdom is severely hampered by thorns and choked by the lure of wealth.
This choke the word – how many things in my life choke the Word of God in me?
• Finally, some of the seed falls in rich, nutritious soil. This soil is like the "man who hears, understands and accepts the Word of God." "He is the one who yields a harvest" in varying degrees of abundance.