Homilies - July 2008
Select a homily to read:
Fifteenth Sunday of the Year: July 13, 2008
- July 13, 2008
- Romans 8:18-23
- Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish leadership gathers momentum and moves towards a point of no return as he draws close to Jerusalem. As the doors of the synagogue begin to close against him and as the scribes and Pharisees weigh and sift every word, Jesus takes to the temple of the open air and from a makeshift pulpit off the shore, he wields his didactic authority and teaches one of his famous parables, the parable of The Sower.
The parable of The Sower is the first in a series of seven parables. It speaks about a hearing of the word that leads to productive living. Sowing and reaping are stock metaphors for teaching and preaching
This parable drawn from nature spoken to an audience of mostly Galilean farmers is an earthly story with a heavenly message.
Jesus walks out of the house, gets into a boat and begins with the invitation: “Listen!” He goes on to say that “a sower went out to sow ,” The sower going out to sow may represent Jesus’ going out to preach the word. He sows out of his prodigality and generosity even on unpromising soil that produces varied reactions resulting from personal shallowness, worldly concerns, and flimsy desires. Satan takes away the word from some listeners. Others do not allow the seed to take root in their hearts. Still others become entangled in the cares of this world and miss Jesus’ message. From among the three unsuccessful plantings, the fourth stands out as the ideal that produces an amazingly rich, extravagant, mind-blowing picture of an unexpected harvest, for the seed takes root and produces internal stability.
It is only the person with a well-disposed heart who will permit the miracle of growth to take place. He or she receives the word, which is like a seed planted on fertile soil and produces fruit in the practice of the word. This one with a good heart seeks first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. This is the path for a full and meaningful life, a life demonstrated by Jesus himself.
This parable drawn from nature teases the mind to active thought with an implicit hermeneutical question: “What kind of soil am I?” It is easy to see ourselves in the four different types of soil. The cares of this world prevent the seed sown in our hearts from producing an excellent return. An unteachable spirit can erect a barrier that cannot be broken down. Shallowness may lead to failure to think things out and think them through. Emotions can sweep us off our feet leaving no room for reason’s ear to think things out, thus the word has no chance of taking root in our hearts.
This parable of the sower is a warning to us all, a call to a life-changing decision. Through baptism God plants His word in our soul, but it is up to each one of us to nurture it and make it grow so that it will bear the fruit God intends. The word was spoken by God in the person of Jesus Christ who is God’s incarnate word, who is both message and messenger. It is our choice as to how we receive Jesus the word; and the fruit we bear depends on our response, for a tree is know by its fruits.
Isaiah likens God’s word to the rain that falls on the earth and gives nourishment. God does not speak in vain but accomplishes what he wills through his word. Therefore, let us be open to receive the teachings of Jesus by creating in our hearts that fertile soil which will provide the necessary nutrients for the seed of the word to take root; and let that word be translated into action in our daily lives so that we may be genuine disciples of Jesus. Rooted in his word let us yield a harvest of a thirty, sixty, and a handsome hundredfold: thus we may not be mere hearers but doers of the word.