Saturday, July 09, 2005
15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
JULY 10, 2005
15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
Thus says the LORD: 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.
Brothers and sisters: I consider that the sufferings of this present
time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the
children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of
its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that
creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and
share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that
all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only
that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we
also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption
of our bodies.
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat
down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to
them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as
he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at
once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was
scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among
thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on
rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear." The disciples approached him and
said, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He said to them in
reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To
anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone
who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I
speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear
but do not listen or understand. Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in
them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall
indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they
will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest
they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with
their hearts and be converted, and I heal them. "But blessed are
your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen,
I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what
you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not
hear it. "Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the
path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without
understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was
sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears
the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and
lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes
because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among
thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and
the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the
seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands
it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or
Parables have such a marvelous way of capturing our imagination. We
listen intently and our imagination "sees" the story in action.
Parables speak to the heart, because we can see or visualize
something familiar to our life experience.
Today's readings are basically optimistic. They speak of the power
of God's word. Isaiah in the first reading tells how rain and snow
fall from the heavens and will not return without having watered the
earth, and made it fertile and fruitful.
We have no trouble picturing with our mind's eye and imagination how
green grass spring up overnight turning the brown earth to green
after a brief rain-shower, how plants grow, and fruits ripen after a
healthy rain. The rain dissolves the nutrients in the soil to
nourish the seed and make it germinate and grow to its full
potential - the complete fulfillment of what it was intended to be.
The Gospel pictures a farmer sowing seeds in his field.
The type of soil into which the seeds landed determines the
fruitfulness. If the seed falls on a stony footpath, the chances of
survival are zero. If it falls on the thin layer of rocky or hard
soil, its roots will not be able to sustain the harsh conditions of
the natural elements. If the seed gets blown into rows of thorn-
bushes that sometimes enclosed fields to discourage animals from
entering them, it will most likely not survive. However, if the seed
falls on good fertile soil, it will undoubtedly flourish and be
brought to its complete fulfillment. In spite of the unproductive
grounds on which the seeds fell, in the end, the good soil produces
yields of 30, 60, and a hundredfold.
This parable is first of all, a parable of Christian optimism. God's
word is certain to produce its yield. There will be good soil to
produce abundant yield.
Christian optimism is not dependent on circumstances in life such as
youth, physical vigor, uninterrupted success, or even simply IQ and
good food. Christian optimism is far from being dampened by ordeals
of life. On the contrary, it seems to draw from them an added motive
for exercising itself.
The parable also speaks of how the disposition, the kind of soil can
affect the fruitfulness of the seeds. We may miss reading Time
magazine, Newsweek, or the Asiaweek, or the latest best seller,
without any great loss. But to miss hearing and responding to God's
Word is to miss what is most important. Jesus, in the parable of the
Sower, provides us with the ways we can respond, or fail to respond
to the Word.
Some people resist the Word of God, by refusing to listen or by
distracting themselves from hearing the Word, or by finding excuses
for not listening, criticizing the priest, the liturgy, and other
church-goers. They do not want God to interfere with the kind of
life they want to live.
Another type of hearing arises, whenever one hears the Word, but sees
only the joy and not the sacrifice. This is a kind of "sunshine
Christianity" in which one follows Jesus as long as there are
miracles, praises and honor. However, when it comes to turning one's
face to Jerusalem and the cross with Jesus, there is often a parting
of the ways. There is no real commitment to Jesus and the kingdom.
Then there is the person who is too full of the world's aspirations.
Such a person is operating under the influence of money, power, and
popularity. The Word of God becomes unnecessary and irrelevant to
the daily concerns connected with the pursuit of worldly affairs.
Wealth speaks louder than Jesus. Money silences faith. After all,
the material world says that if you acquire enough of the world's
goods, you can control the Church, God and grace. Everything is
earned and kept. You can buy your way to heaven. Those who don't
want to live like them are stupid or lazy. "Rights" becomes the
operative word. God's Word, therefore, is easily dismissed.
Finally, there is the person, who authentically hears and proclaims
the Word of God. This is the person who hears the message,
internalizes it and puts it into practice in his or her life. He it
is "who bears a yield of a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold." The
Word of God becomes the vital center of that person's life. The Word
inspires and consoles.
In summary, in the parable - the farmer stands for Jesus. The seed
is God's Word. The soil, meaning the footpath, rock, thorns, good
soil, refer to the people, who hear God's word.
Some people reject it outright. Others receive it, and discard it
later. Still others receive it, treasure it, and put it into
It is important to note that in only one case was the Word rejected
outright. In the other cases, it was received with joy. The problem
is not in receiving God's Word. The problem is in treasuring it, and
putting it into practice.
There are, therefore, three steps involved in responding to God's
Word: receiving it, treasuring it, and practicing it. Let's take a
closer look at each of these steps:
The first step is hearing God's Word. We might call it the "mind"
step. It involves listening attentively to Scripture being read and
The second step is treasuring God's Word. It might be called
the "heart" step. It involves taking to heart the Word we have
heard. We consider its implications for our life, and how it can
make our life better.
This second step doesn't necessarily take place in church. It may
start in church, but it usually continues during the week ahead, as
we think about the Word we heard on Sunday.
The third step is putting God's Word into practice. If we recall the
first step, the "mind" step, and the second step, the "heart" step,
we might call the third step the "soul" step. It involves acting on
what our mind has received and what our heart has treasured.
St. Paul referred to the "soul" step when he said: "The Word of God
is ... sharper then any two-edged sword. It cuts all the way through,
to where soul and spirit meet."
And so the three steps involved in hearing God's word are:
the mind step (receiving it),
the heart step (treasuring it),
the soul step (putting it into practice).
Today's gospel is an invitation to begin responding to God's Word by
receiving it, treasuring it, and putting it into practice.
Let's close with a prayer:
Sower of the seed of God's Word,
Help us realize
that just receiving your Word isn't enough.
Help us, also to take it to heart,
And put it into practice.
Sower of the seed of God's Word,
help us respond to your word,
not only with our whole mind,
and our whole heart,
but also with our whole soul. Amen.
We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the personal intentions of JP.
- for the personal intentions of Lydia and family.
- for the personal intentions of Cresencia.
- for the well-being of Nina.
- for good health and special intentions of Elsa and Paolo.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Enrique-Jaime Castillo
- In Memoriam: Macaria Co Yu (1924-1988)
- for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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