HOMILY FOR THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: New Evangelization
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
A journalist was interested in writing about prison life. He began interviewing the inmates. He asked one prisoner, “Do you watch television here?” “Yes, but only in the daytime,” the inmate replied, “because at night we are not anymore allowed to get out of our cells and so we don’t get to see any television.” “Oh, what a pity,” the reporter said, “But I think it is right in letting you watch TV only in the daytime.” “What do you mean?” the inmate asked. “Because there is more trash in the daytime shows. And that is part of the punishment.”
We are now living in the age of television. Whether we admit it or not, our thinking, behavior and way of life have been somehow influenced by it. Many of us, in fact, have made television not only as the source of information, but also as the standard for human behavior. When we watch TV, we just sit on the couch and everything – news, entertainment, and commercials – is delivered to us. There is nothing we need to do. We are passive spectators. And when we do not like the show, we just change the channel or we simply turn it off.
Sad to say, many of us apply this kind of attitude to our relationship with God. We treat Him just like television. We listen to God’s word, but we don’t see the need to do something about it. We remain passive and uninvolved spectators and listeners. More than that, we expect to always hear pleasant things and to be entertained. We avoid hearing the hard and bitter truths of the Gospel. And if we do not get what we wanted or expected, we walk away and look for another church, or we simply turn God off from our lives. These times, then, call for a more effective and better ways of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. This is what moved Pope Benedict XVI to establish the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. He said, “To proclaim Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world seems more complex today than in the past; but our task remains the same as at the dawn of our history… The crisis being experienced bears in itself traces of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, of a generalized indifference toward the Christian faith itself, to the point of attempting to marginalize it from public life.” (Address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization on May 30, 2011). This Sunday, the Gospel talks about evangelization. The parable of the Sower could be more precisely called the Parable of the Seeds. The focus of the parable is not on the sower but on the seeds. Jesus compared the word of God to the seeds sown in different kinds of soil. These will grow and bear fruits if the conditions and dispositions of the soil are right. From this parable, we get two important lessons. First, the word of God will grow and bear fruits only when it is planted on good soil. But a good soil does not happen by chance. It is the product of the toil and sacrifices of the farmer who pulls out the weeds, plows the land, cultivates it and nourishes it with water, nutrients and fertilizers. Similarly, if we want the word of God to grow and bear fruits in us, we must work hard in rooting out sins from our hearts, cultivating our soul with the practice of Christian virtues and nourishing it with the graces of God and the sacraments. In other words, this is what St. Paul admonished: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).
Second, Jesus likened the word of God to a seed. This is to underscore the truth that God’s word does not come to us as a finished product. Its seed is planted in our soul, and we have to do our share in nurturing it and bringing it to fruition. This is the reason why Jesus did his ministry for only three years. And after that, before he went back to his heavenly Father, he instructed his disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18). In short, he did not finish the whole thing. He commissioned all his followers to continue what he had done. He planted the seeds of salvation; it is up to his followers, aided by the Holy Spirit, to continue and finish the job.
Hence, before we leave the Church, the priest tells us, “The Mass is ended. Go in peace.” It is not really a dismissal, but a commissioning. We are being sent on a mission, to make the word of God bear fruit in our daily life. It cannot remain static and passive. It has to bear abundant fruits through our lives permeated with the Gospel values.
Through the prophet Isaiah, therefore, God said, “Yet 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; it shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Is 55:10-11). God has sown the seed. It is our turn to make it grow and bear fruits for the salvation of souls and the whole world.
The New Evangelization begins with us.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera
Springs 3, Susano Road Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422