Sunday, July 16
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13: 1 – 23
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.”
STANDING …. SOWER … SEED …. GROUND
Just a little scripture study tip – whenever Jesus sits down, Listen Up! He is going to teach us something. I find it interesting that the people stood along the shore. They are standing on the (shore) edge of the sea … standing on the edge of life. They are, in our way of speaking, “on-the-fence.” Disciples always sat at the Teacher’s feet when the Master was teaching but this group is standing. How often do we stand on the edge, trying to decide if we are going to jump fully into life? Sometimes, we stand on the edge, trying to decide if we are going to give ourselves over completely to what Jesus is offering us.
Jesus tells them a parable. Often when we hear a story that we know, we can do three things: 1) We could say, “I know this parable”. Then, since we already know it, we close our minds and hearts to new possibilities. 2) We might say, “I have heard this before” and we let our mind start thinking of other things. 3) or We can sit down and Listen up! and let Jesus teach us something today.
Two other things caught my imagination in this Gospel passage from Matthew besides the people standing on the shore. The sower and the ground. Usually, we think that the rocky ground represents this type of people, the path another type, the thorns another and so on. More often than not, we place ourselves in the good soil. That’s all true, but let’s take a different twist. Stand and look at the parable from a different vantage point. In a scripture passage we are everything and everyone. I wonder if we look inside our own heart we might find each type of ground mentioned. Might we find some rocky place, thorny patches, some really good places?
There are places in our heart that are like the path. We hear God’s Word but never let it have great influence on our lives. We never let it disturb our “regular” life. We never let it challenge us. If I am honest, I think that in my heart there are places where the soil is very rocky and not very deep. The hardness of heart that often develops when we get hurt. In the rocky places pieces of the teachings of Jesus, especially the ones I find most difficult, that have not penetrated my heart deeply so that good and strong roots could develop. There are parts of my heart that may be the thorny patch, where my own sinfulness, whatever that might be, tries to choke the life out of God’s Word. Then there is a part of my heart where God’s Word has found rich soil within me. I have embraced God’s Word and have tried to let it shape and influence my life. I believe that each type of the soil Jesus mentioned are found in me and you as individuals and in us as a parish.
The final piece that attracted me was the Sower and the seed. We might even call this sower, “The Extravagant Sower” who seems to be throwing seeds around with great abandon. Why throw seeds down where there is little chance for good growth? It seems a rather sloppy, wasteful and extravagant way of sowing. That’s our way of thinking, but God isn’t like that. God is always extravagant and throws out his Word in great abundance to let it fall where it might fall. Each one of us is called to be this character, and the seed, too. We are called to be extravagant with God’s Word (seeds). To speak it, to live it, to love it and to spread it with great abandon. We never know where the Word of God that we speak will fall. We never know what one little word might have a life-changing effect on someone (or at least make their day). We never know what our witness will be for another person. Really, our knowing what happens isn’t all that important. What is important is that we imitate the Extravagant Sower and when we go about our everyday lives, we choose to go out to sow the words of God, to sow the words of mercy, forgiveness, love, challenge, commitment, courage, kindness with the reckless abandon of The Sower in today’s gospel and let the Word of God fall where it may. It is time for us to stop standing on the edge and begin to sit down and learn what Jesus is teaching us. Don’t be afraid to take chances and remember it is not all about us. It is about letting God use us instruments to take sactter the seeds of God’s message.
Sister Teresa Tuite, OP