July 13, 2008
Fifteenth Sunday in ordinary time
Matthew 13: 1-23
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!" Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn-- and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell 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. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you; I know that you are present here and everywhere and are always looking out for me and guiding me. I trust and hope in you, because I know you will never lead me astray, if only I listen to you and obey you. I love you for being so good and patient with me, and I desire to live each day more faithful to you.
Petition: Open my ears, Lord Jesus, to hear your word, prepare the soil of my heart to receive it with openness, and respond with generosity.
1. Listen! Twice in this Gospel passage, Jesus exhorts the crowds to “Listen!” The fact is, today as then, it is hard for us to stop what we are doing, put aside our prejudices, worries and preoccupations, and listen to God. But, how else can we hope to know God’s will for us? Even during his earthly life, Jesus often – as in this passage – spoke in parables. He wants us to make the effort to understand his message and apply it to our lives. It seems that’s the minimum of good will he asks from us in order for him to enter our lives through the Word and transform us so we can bear fruit.
2. Blessed Are We Jesus tells his disciples that they are blessed because they see what they see and hear what they hear. In a way, we could feel less blessed, because we don’t see and hear Jesus directly. However, in a way we are more blessed! The disciples in Jesus’ time had to struggle to understand his message. It was a new and, in some ways, difficult teaching, and they were the first to have to interpret, teach and apply this message. We have the benefit of nearly two thousand years of saints and scholars who, with their lives and writings, have explained and applied the Gospel; we have the Holy Spirit that the disciples had not yet received when Jesus spoke these words; and we have the presence of Jesus himself in the Eucharist. We should be thankful and act responsibly with all these gifts we’ve received!
3. Bearing Fruit a Hundredfold If we do listen to Jesus’ message, both in Scripture and in the many indirect ways he manifests his will to us in our lives, and if we appreciate what a gift this is, we must show our gratitude with the way we live. We have to be the good soil that bears fruit a hundredfold. That means not only growing in our own faith and living in consonance with it, but also multiplying the gift by sharing it with others. We can’t be satisfied with being good and not sinning; in order to be good Christians, we have to spread the message in whatever ways are available to us in our state of life. Every day we should ask ourselves: What have I done today to spread the seeds of the Gospel?
Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Jesus, for all you have given me! I’m sorry for the times I have not given you priority over other things and have not listened to you or shared with others the gifts you’ve given me. Help me to bear abundant fruit!
Resolution: I will be sure to spend some time with God today to examine my life and see how I can both listen better and share God’s gifts more with others.
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