July 13: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23
The readings of this Sunday invite us to reflect on Christ the Sower of God’s Word. The central point of the readings may be summed up as follows: “Hearing and Listening to Christ’s Word nourishes and makes us to be fertile and fruitful.” The Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading speaks about the effectiveness of God’s Word. Like the rain and snow, which do not return without watering the earth, so too the Word that comes from the mouth of God is effective. Isaiah’s message in the first reading is a prelude to the Gospel of today about the parable of the Sower. Just as the rain waters the land, showing us how God’s Word brings about the desired results, similarly the parable of the Sower reveals to us the dynamic power of God’s Word. Isaiah’s message contains an important aspect of conversion, so that the Word of God, like the rain may shower upon our hardened hearts making them “fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats.” The First Reading is therefore a prelude to the parable of the Sower in the Gospel. The parable of the Sower reveals that many people who hear the Gospel simply never seem to “get it.” The message is stolen before it takes root. Then there are about 50% of our Catholic kids who receive the Sacraments but disappear between age 18 to 35, only to reappear later for marriage. Shallow roots fail to equip them to take the heat our secular culture. Then there are about 89% of lifelong, regular church goers who, according to George Gallup, have values and lifestyle identical to those of their secular neighbours. Their faith has been so neutralized by bad theology and a focus on worldly preoccupation. Though they look like Catholics, their faith practice is fruitless. Then there are those who remain faithful, going regularly to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, manage to do some good for some people, but in all produce only a mediocre harvest in life. Finally there are those who yearn to learn more about their faith. They sink their roots in Scripture, Tradition, prayer and the sacraments. These produce an abundant harvest. Jesus wants all of us, not just some to yearn for more so that we all may produce a bumper crop.
The Gospel message, despite its apparent ineffectiveness, will in the end produce fruit. In the midst of disappointments, our labour will in the end bear fruit. In Africa for example, the Church today faces so many obstacles and challenges in its evangelising task. Civil wars upset pastoral plans; and undemocratic systems impede the establishment of the necessary means of communicating the word of God. It is mysterious however that at the end of each year, the Catholic population in Africa continues to grow by .2%. What message do we take home? 1) The readings intend to affirm that the proclamation of God’s Word will in the end bear fruit despite the difficulties, opposition and disappointments evangelisation faces in the world today. 2) The readings challenge us to make this realised in our lives by acting upon the word of God. We need to accept the transforming power of God’s Word in our lives. 3) Despite the apparent ineffectiveness and disappointments, our efforts will in the end bear abundant fruit.
©2008 John M. Mbinda