July 16, 2017: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time A
“I don’t get it.” That was my reaction when I opened the bible and began to read it in college. “Who are these people and what do these words mean?” It was difficult at first to make sense of what I was reading, and it was frustrating. I had too many interests and cares about the world, and the word of God was not taking root. As in today’s Parable of the Sower, my heart was like a hardened foot path--unreceptive and barren--so that when the seeds of God’s words fell on my heart, the evil one came and stole them away. I did not know how to read and pray with scripture. Only when I joined bible studies, did I begin to understand the meaning of the words I was reading.
What do you do each day to allow God’s words to take root and flourish in your life? Ponder these questions.
1) Do you read the daily mass readings?
2) Do you attend Mass with an expectation that God is going to speak to you personally through the readings and the homily?
3) Do you anticipate that your life will change in someway because you pondered the gospel?
I have come to know a couple who has a simple daily habit that nourishes them and inspires their outlook of the day. They both wake up early in the morning. First, they grab a cup of coffee and read the daily mass readings. In silence they ponder the words and ask, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” They jot down any words or phrases from the reading that touch them. Then they write in their journal as if they are responding to the Lord directly. Finally, they share with each other what they have journaled. This daily habit guides them toward God’s mission for them as well as strengthens their marriage.
We have the promise from God through Prophet Isaiah that God’s words have the power to change us. “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”
Prophet Isaiah prophesied that God’s word will accomplish the end for which it was sent. The word of God will continue to work on us for our whole life, seeking to draw us to the Lord. What lacks is our cooperation. We must remember that our Christian life is a life of combat against ourselves and against all the cultural values which are not in accord with the word of God. This brings us to ask, how can we expect God’s powerful words to touch us if we do not take the opportunity to read or hear them? Our Lord warns us through the Parable of the Sower that even if we have heard his word, wordly anxiety or greed can destroy our spiritual life. How can the Word of God take root in a place where the soil has been replaced with sewage? The Word of God can’t grow in a cesspool of self-absorption, unbridled anger, and unchecked lust. Yet, Our Lord, the Divine Sower, continues to plant the seed of his Word throughout this fallen world. He wants to transform this world one heart at a time. He desires us to respond with love toward even the ones who commit atrocious harm against another in the name of God and religion.
Take also the example the heartaches some parents experience with their grown children. Although their children were taught Catholic faith, their grown children no longer go to church or have even become self-professed agnostic or atheist. We must remember to be patient in such cases; we must hope that the seeds of love and the faith that we’ve planted in the hearts of those we love, will eventually bear fruit. The miracle of God’s seed is that unbeknownst to us, the faith that we’ve planted in others, even when they seem to be buried under too much dirt, will germinate, grow, and yield a harvest of some extent.
Do you believe that during this short hour we spend in this church, if we have even a small desire to listen, a great miracle can happen in our lives? Do you believe that if you invest 15 minutes each morning to read and ponder God’s words, your entire day will be filled with God’s strength and joy?
We must want to be on good soil for God’s words to take root, grow, and produce fruit. We can place ourselves on the good soil when we read and listen to the scriptures and speak through prayer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We firmly believe that both the Word of God and the Body of Christ will feed us and grant us faithful perseverance in living according to Christ’s word so that God’s kingdom will flourish beyond measure.