REFLECTION/HOMILY FOR 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (FIFTEENTH SUNDAY) – YEAR A
HOMILY THEME: PLANTING SEEDS
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
PERSONAL FAMILY EXPERIENCE The story of the farmer who went out to sow seed reminds me of my personal experience when growing up in Malumfashi, Katsina State Nigeria. Malumfashi is a fertile area where all kinds of crops are planted and these include corn, beans, guinea corn, cotton and ground nuts (pea nuts). In fact, a majority of the people are engaged in agriculture in the local government area. Before the raining season, we would go to sweep the farm (sharan gona) and prepare the soil into ridges for the seed. At the inception of the raining season we went to sow the seeds of maize and later on in the season we sowed the seeds of beans (Black-eyed peas). We do not just plant any seed in the soil, but only the best seeds which we conserved from the previous year. It is always amazing to see how the seeds we planted sprouted and became new plants. Usually, we plant the seeds and nurture the soil to enable the seeds grow in a healthy environment. In nurturing the plant we would till and fertilize the soil and clear the weeds at intervals. Having spent a lot of time and money in the nurturing of the plants, our biggest expectation is to have good harvest. Some of the farmers request blessing over the seed from religious leaders before they go for planting. This gesture is an expression of faith in God who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, who increases store of food and enlarges harvests (2 Corinthians 9:10).
SCRIPTURE READINGS IN FOCUS Various passages of scripture make reference to divine providence in sending the rain and making plants to grow. For example, the psalmist tells us how God cares for the earth, gives it water, filling it with riches (Psalm 64:10). Scriptures also present the word of God as seed planted in human hearts and so the prophet Isaiah compares the power of the word of God to the rain and snow which waters the earth and makes it yield and giving growth (Isaiah 55:10). This passage goes to show that God takes care of the earth as he takes care of the human soul, planting the seed of his word in it and nourishing it with the living water of life. Indirectly, the Apostle Paul reassures his listeners that the suffering which they undergo in making the seed of the word grow in their earthly lives is nothing compared with the glory of the harvest in the life to come (Romans 8:18). The re-assuring words of Paul serve as reminder of the Psalm which says: ‘They go out, they go out full of tears carrying seed for the sowing; they come back, they come back full of songs carrying their sheaves (Psalm 126:6). Planting the seed of goodness in the world full of evil is not an easy task, neither is it easy to plant the seed of love, peace, kindness and joy in a world full of hatred, conflicts, wickedness and sorrows. Jesus tells the parable of the seed and the sower to illustrate how different hearts respond to the word of God.
OUR DAILY EXPERIENCE OF PLANTING: Do you realise that in some ways, we are all farmers and so we can identify with the sower who went out to sow seeds? We are all farmers in the sense that we are constantly planting for our future, planting for our health, planting for our children, planting for our welfare and planting seeds of kindness. When we set out to work in the morning we are going out to plant a seed, which comes out in the form of remuneration, salaries, wages, job fulfilment, harvest and results that we receive afterwards. There are seeds, which we have planted in the past that have yielded abundant harvest and there are seeds we have planted that produced little or no good harvest. In some cases, life affords us the opportunity to replant and at other times, the opportunity to plant only comes once. Two of the difficulties we have are lack of adequate preparations before the planting of the seed and the lack of patience to wait for the seed to grow naturally and according to God’s ways. Just as preparation is important in every aspect of life, so it is in farming and that is why conventional wisdom says, “To plant asparagus, dig a ditch three years ago.” We expect rapid results after planting because we want to make quick profits, but due process is almost always too long because our patience easily grows thin.
I am surprised to know that the Chinese Bamboo takes a period of five years to grow. After tilling the soil, planting and fertilizing nothing appears on the surface of the earth until the fifth year and in the fifth year it grows ninety feet only within the period of six weeks. This is what happens when we plant some seeds in life – it appears that nothing is happening and that our efforts are in vain, but looking more closely and waiting more patiently reveals to us much later that God works silently and invisibly in the seeds that we plant.
TRADITION OF TREE PLANTING In many Catholic parishes in Nigeria, there is a tradition of tree planting beginning from the second half of the year. Normally, the parish community makes a list of all families in the parish and on each Sunday, a family is called to plant a seed by giving some donations for the up-keep of the Church. The faithful carry out this event with excitement because of their belief that the donation they give out is the seed planted in expectation for the blessings of God. In some parts of Australia, I have seen that the version of seed planting in the Church comes in the form of ‘Planned Giving’ which is in making a donation monthly or so, for the upkeep of the Church.
GOD MAKES THE SEED TO GROW There are times when we spend so much time and money on some projects and we wonder why we have not achieved the desired results. Most often we tend to exclude God in the process of planting and rely solely on our energy and efforts. We tend to forget that our role is limited in the entire process. The Lord provides the seed, we do the planting and the watering of the seed, but it is the Lord who makes the seed to grow. Paul attested to this fact when he said: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). No wonder wise people belief little is much if God is in it.
CALL TO ACTION
May we make our hearts a rich and fertile soil that would allow the seed of the Gospel messages to bear good fruits in our daily lives. May we also realise that our lives are seeds planted by God to bear fruits that would last. Let us sow seeds by the good work we do and how much impact our work makes in the lives of other people.
Let us invest our time and resources in the lives of people. The seeds we plant in children and in the lives of younger ones are the faith, good values and culture that we pass unto them. Let us sow generously the seed of charity by giving generously.
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