The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 16, 2017
Isaiah 55, 10-11 + Psalm 65 + Romans 8, 18-23 + Matthew 13, 1-23
St Joseph Parish, Norman, OK
Jesus told this parable to reveal something about the Father’s extravagant generosity since his mission was ultimately about the revelation of God. Matthew probably included this parable urging the church of his time to examine how they had received the seed or the “Word” of God. Moving around within the parable to examine each of the elements is a good way to open our hearts to the power of God’s Word in the scriptures. We could examine what kind of ground we are like the church of Saint Matthew. In other words, how receptive we have been to what has been sown in us. We might examine the seeds reflecting on how God has scattered us through this world with the expectation that we would bear fruit and flourish no matter where we are. We might even wonder if we have been like the birds who have become the cause of no harvest grabbing up God’s gifts, and then simply taking off to look elsewhere for more.
There is still another position with which we can open our hearts to the challenge and message of this parable, and that position is the sower. As a people made in the image of God there is something here to reflect upon, something that might bring us to more perfectly reflect that image to this world just as Jesus did.
This extravagant and generous sower becomes for us the very model of what we must be as images of our creator. Generous with forgiveness, extravagant with our gifts and resources, we spread the joy and the peace of the Kingdom everywhere and anywhere. There is no concern about whether or not it will do any good, or whether or not anyone deserves it. Our concern is not that it bears fruit. Our concern is that we mirror the likeness and behavior of God revealed to us by the Word. We do not pick and choose, we not hold back, and we do not worry about the harvest. It will come in due time in proportion to the nature of the one who receives it. We can sow seeds of kindness and mercy, and God will bring it to the harvest. We can sow seeds of compassion and understanding, of patience and joy to everyone everywhere even to the hardest of hearts and to the most dry and closed minds.
A seed is a marvelous thing, but it is weak and vulnerable. It is the same with words. They are powerful. One unkind word spoken in anger can destroy a lifetime of friendship and affection. Whispers of gossip and suspicion can sow seeds of doubt and ruin the reputations and dreams of the innocent never to be repaired. Yet for us, silence cannot be possible for we are a people filled with God’s Word which must be spoken. We sow the seeds of hospitality and welcome with words of encouragement and affirmation, advice and guidance, comfort and consolation because someone has sown those seeds in us. Those seeds bear fruit because of our faith and the attitude of openness that faith requires. Someone once spoke to us, and revealed the God who has called us. Like the one in whose image we are made, we must do the same.
My friends, what we say and how we speak to each other is a seed that holds the promise of a rich harvest of peace, reconciliation, understanding, compassion, and encouragement. Let us resolve that from our reflection upon this parable, we might become more like our creator who has sown the seeds of promise and hope everywhere throughout creation by what say and how we say every day and everywhere.