Sermons

Summary: We need to pay attention to the condition of our soil, but we also need to spend time daily preparing and sowing.

Fifteenth Sunday in Course 2014

Seed, Soil, Sower, Rain

Today’s OT reading went by so fast that you might forget its importance. That’s not the lector’s fault: the Church gives us only two verses. Let’s listen to the Word of God in the longer version beginning four verses earlier: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

We should rejoice that God is not like us, for even though God made us in His image and likeness, Genesis tells us that soon after humans became human, we set about remaking ourselves not in God’s image and likeness. We decided that we know better than God how to be happy and fulfilled. The reality is this: God is love, and made us to be lovers. We have totally messed up our understanding of that reality. What it means that God is love is this: God is so focused on the subject of His love, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus, and the Son is so focused on the Father that their mutual love is a person, the Holy Spirit. And God’s love is so rich, so overflowing, that this love issues forth in creation, in new spirits and new bodies that make up the heavens and the earth. God is entirely other-focused, other-caring, other-indulgent. God, in love, made us to be like that.

After the original revolution, the rebellion of Adam and Eve, humans–you and I–are prone to be self-focused, self-caring, self-indulgent. The temptation is to believe that life is a zero-sum game, that anything we give reduces us, impoverishes us. We think that if we write a big check to the church or to a Catholic charity that we have lost, that we have gained nothing. We think that if we spend time calling on the residents of a long-term care facility that we are losing that time. We believe that if we share our faith with a friend or even an inquiring co-worker, we’ll be considered losers. The reality is this–everything we give comes back to us, in the words of the Gospel, thirty or sixty or even a hundredfold. The money may not come back as cash, but rather as strengthened Catholic institutions. The time and trouble may bear fruit as souls in heaven, souls who otherwise would have been lost for eternity. If you hoard up your gifts, your treasure, you will be poorer for it.

We should also this morning ask ourselves what kind of soil we are today. What kind of soil is our family? What kind of soil is my soul? You have come to Mass. Did you come out of personal devotion, or just to please a family member? The seed that falls on your soul today may encounter a hard surface. Will you let it take root? Will you let it grow, or walk out of Mass unchanged? The purpose of the Mass, of hearing the Word, of asking for what we need, of taking communion is change. We are supposed to be transformed here. If the seed bounces off your soul, if this next week your heart and mind are not more like Christ, then you have wasted your time. Creation is waiting with eager longing for the revelation of Jesus Christ in your heart. Don’t disappoint creation. Don’t disappoint the Creator.

We next learned that “the seed falling in shallow soil on rocky ground refers to those timid or superficial believers who fall away out of human respect or fear when discrimination or persecution for the faith comes their way.” We don’t have to live in Syria, Iraq, eastern Ukraine or Sudan to experience such persecution. These days, all you have to do is insist that marriage must be as God designed it for us–one man and one woman, for unity and procreation, for life–to live out a martyr’s existence. It is critical that each one of us get educated on the hot-button moral issues of the day. Read the Church’s documents on family, marriage, ministry to folks with same-sex attraction, and the life issues. And stay up with Catholic writers who are helping us understand those issues. As St. Paul says, we must always be ready to defend our faith, and do so in charity and with reason.

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