YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: SEED IS THE WORD
BY:Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: I am surprised to know that the Chinese Bamboo takes a period of five years to grow. Usually, after tilling the soil, planting and fertilizing nothing appears on the surface of the earth until the fifth year. In the fifth year the bamboo 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.
The people of Israel who were in exile were beginning to doubt the power of the Word of God. The prophet Isaiah spoke in God’s name assuring the people of God’s promises. He 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). St. Paul also lived in a situation where there was chaos, sorrows, tears, violence and conflict. He offers his readers hope and assurance that all these evils will soon be over and God will fulfill his promises to his people. 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).
Jesus observes people’s different attitudes towards listening to God’s word. Jesus speaks about a farmer who goes out to plant seed. Some of these seed fell on the paths others on rocky grounds and thorns; some other seeds fell on rich soil. Jesus interpreted the parable thus:
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields . . .”
The fertile soil yields a rich harvest this fertile soil represent those who hear the word comprehend it (understand it), believe it and translate it into their daily life. They make the word real, alive and active.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus was holding out a mirror for us to see ourselves. Jesus tells the parable of the seed and the sower to illustrate how different hearts respond to the word of God. At different points in life our hearts were like the path, the rocky grounds, the thorns and the rich soil in which the seed was planted. At one time, we become active, yielding rich fruits, at another time, we become cold towards the word of God; at other times, we find ourselves distracted by mundane things and our hearts fixed on material things – becoming material men and women. Only a few times do we remain stable and faithful in keeping the word. We are always amazed and inspired by people whose life is very productive – these are people who have passed through turbulent waters and have been tormented by many troubles in the world and still remain steadfast. They keep moving on, believing firmly and holding on to the word and promises of God.
Besides, we 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 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. 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.
In communication studies, we learn about different listening styles. Among these styles are informational listening style in which our primary goal is to gather information, critical listening in which we analyse what we hear, and appreciative listening is when appreciate the information we gather. We are always in search of creative speakers and preachers but it is also time that we also become creative listeners who listen attentively and with an open heart to the Word of God and make the best out of the little that we are able to get. To be a true disciple of Jesus is to make the word of God effective, fruitful, creative, alive and active in our daily life.
© Fr. Gerald Musa; 15th Sunday of the Year A; Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 13:1-23