We are in the 15th week in ordinary time. This week’s readings discuss the transforming power of the Word of God when read, preached, and lived. The readings also warn us not to be disappointed with the absence of immediate results. We must take a positive and optimistic view of our missionary efforts as we keep on bearing witness to Christ’s Gospel. The parable of the sower of seeds in today’s Gospel challenges us to listen intently to God’s Word, to be open to it and to shape our lives by its power. The parable reminds us that man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart.
In the first reading Isaiah consoles the Jewish slaves who lived in Babylon. He gives them hope through a simple analogy — rain and snow. Like rain and snow which water the earth so that seeds may sprout and grow, God’s word will accomplish its purpose, in this case, by returning the exiles to their homeland in peace as God promised. The return of the Jewish people to their homeland will be an everlasting memorial to the power of Yahweh’s word. Thus, the first reading promises spiritual fruitfulness to God’s followers.
The second reading is filled with hope and confidence in the midst of suffering, something that each person experiences in a unique, individual way. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes and gives response to his own suffering: “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (II Cor. 4:8.) According to Paul, creation itself shares in suffering, and has done so from the very beginning of time. Creation is in travail and is “groaning in labor pains.” Like Paul and the rest of us, creation also has a response to its suffering: it waits with eager expectation to be set free from the present slavery and pain. We can envision that the earth itself is striving to participate in God’s glory as we do or are called to do.
In the Gospel reading Jesus teaches us that the word of God is the seed, and our hearts and minds are the soil. The good spiritual yield in life depends on how much a person willingly accepts and responds to the word of God. The good spiritual yield in life depends on how much a person willingly accepts and responds to the word of the Lord. In His parable of the sower, Jesus uses four different types of soil to explain the way people receive and respond to God’s word. In fact, each one of us may display all four different types of soil at various time in our own lives.
The questions we need to ask ourselves are: What type of soil am I? Am I merely hearing God’s word without understanding it? Is God’s word met with a hard heart in me? Am I too anxious about money, security, provision for retirement, old age, or other areas of life? Is God’s word taking root in me, converting me, transforming me, and enabling me to grow in grace? How do we respond to the Word of God and to the various
Acts of God in our lives? Do we allow the trials and tribulations of this world to overwhelm the tender seed growing within us? Do we allow the cares of this world, our ambitions or our desires for success and happiness to choke out the messages that God sends us through the various events of our daily lives and through the various people we encounter? How we respond to the Word of God is the key to how fruitful the Gospel is going to be in our lives. Unlike the situation in nature, we can, as it were, change the kind of soil that we are and become fruit-producing people, producing abundant fruits. We need to transform our hard paths, rocky ground, and thorny bushes into good soil so that we can hear God’s word and produce fruits.
On another note I want to take this opportunity to remind and invite you all to our summer series talk this Sunday, July 16th, at 9:15 am in the Hall. Cy Kellett, a well-known speaker from Catholic Answers, will speak on the topic, “Five Great Deceptions.” Please see this week’s bulletin to learn more about the speaker and his topic.